Diversa Awarded NIH Grant to Develop New Antibodies Targeting SARS


SAN DIEGO -- Diversa Corporation announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the company a grant for the discovery and development of antibodies to diagnose and treat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Under the three-year grant, Diversa will apply its OmniMab antibody program to screen more than one billion fully human antibodies against targets associated with the SARS-coronavirus. In collaboration with Diversa, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) will then test antibody candidates selected and optimized by Diversa for their ability to neutralize live SARS-coronavirus. NIAID has recommended approximately $1.9 million in total funding, of which $1.0 million has been awarded for the first year of the project.

"A key benefit of Diversa's OmniMab antibody program is its ability to evolve 100 percent of all amino acids within the antibody protein, as well as its ability to access the over half of human antibodies that are typically lost when using traditional systems. We believe that this diverse collection of antibodies has the potential to deliver improved functional properties than traditional hybridoma, transgenic animal, and phage display technologies," stated Dr. Jay M. Short, Diversa's president and CEO. "This important anti-viral project is complementary with our anti-infective focus," continued Dr. Short.

About Diversa's OmniMabAntibody Program

Diversa's OmniMab antibody program combines Diversa's patented DirectEvolution® technologies with ultra high-throughput screening capabilities to generate a novel in vitro process for isolating fully human antibodies. Diversa has engineered its fully synthetic library to deliver a more diverse collection of antibodies with better functional properties than traditional antibody generation technologies. This novel approach is designed to improve therapeutic performance, increase production yields, and establish broad patent protection against follow-on antibodies. Diversa is currently using its antibody generation and optimization technologies in a multi-project BioDefense collaboration with USAMRIID to develop antibodies to diagnose and/or treat anthrax, plague, ricin toxin, and alpha-virus. In addition, Diversa's collaborations with XOMA, Medarex, and Syngenta AG include multiple therapeutic antibody generation and/or optimization projects.

Source: Diversa Corporation

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