The international outbreak of Ebola in 2014 serves as a reminder for the need to be proactive in preparing for the rapid spread of any newly emerging or re-emerging infectious disease. The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) announces it has received $4 million in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to develop an adjuvant manufacturing hub with both preclinical and clinical expertise to facilitate pandemic influenza preparedness in developing countries.
Many next-generation, rationally designed vaccines contain both an antigen (a non-infectious piece of a pathogen that the immune system learns to attack) and an adjuvant (substances added to vaccines to enhance the ability of antigens to stimulate the body's immune response). IDRI has proven ability to develop adjuvants and transfer that technology to enable manufacturing in several countries, including Romania and India.
Adjuvants are an important part of pandemic influenza response, as they can dramatically increase vaccine availability. IDRI's adjuvants can be used to increase the number of available vaccine doses through 'dose sparing,' reducing the amount of vaccine antigen needed per individual dose. This allows more vaccine doses to be available, stretching vaccine manufacturing capacity to be able to protect more people.
"The ability to rapidly develop and deploy vaccines, while using less vaccine, can mean the difference in how successful the world is at combatting the next outbreak," says Steven G. Reed, PhD, IDRI president, founder and chief scientific officer.
The primary goal of the BARDA-funded project is for IDRI to partner with developing country vaccine manufacturers (DCVMs) to develop adjuvanted influenza vaccine capabilities. IDRI will supply sufficient oil-in-water emulsion adjuvant and partner with up to two DCVMs to enhance their pandemic influenza vaccine programs. These adjuvants will be evaluated with antigen through preclinical and clinical studies. As part of this project, IDRI will establish the capacity to manufacture 50 million doses of adjuvant within a three-month timeframe, to provide adjuvants to eligible DCVMs supported through the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines.
"In order to facilitate a rapid global response to a pandemic, BARDA and WHO have identified institutes in developing countries that are able to make influenza vaccines. Dose-sparing strategies such as adjuvants will be critical in order to have sufficient coverage in the event of an influenza pandemic," explains Christopher Fox, PhD, principal investigator for the project. "This project will represent a new approach in making the vaccine technology available to developing countries so there can be a rapid response where it's needed most."
As a nonprofit global health organization, IDRI takes a comprehensive approach to combat infectious diseases, combining the high-quality science of a research organization with the product development capabilities of a biotech company to create new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 125 employees headquartered in Seattle with nearly 100 partners/collaborators around the world.