$5.8 MILLION AWARDED FOR VACCINE ENGINEERING WILL USE “IMMUNE HISTORY” TO PROTECT AGAINST BIRD FLU, A COLLABORATION LED BY EPIVAX
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Sept. 18, 2017– EpiVax, Inc. (“EpiVax”) a pioneer in the fields of bioinformatics and immune engineering, today announced a new NIH-funded collaboration to develop a protective avian influenza A (H7N9) vaccine.
H7N9 is distantly related to seasonal influenza and presents a challenge for traditional flu vaccine approaches, which rely on prior exposure to be effective. Using state-of-the-art bioinformatics and molecular modeling methods, this cutting-edge program aims to engineer the H7N9 hemagglutinin protein to resemble seasonal flu; a process designed to engage immunological memory and make conventional hemagglutinin-focused flu vaccines protective against the new high-mortality avian influenza.
This 5-year program will address pandemic preparedness, which is a pillar of the US Government’s National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. “The EpiVax team has had a great deal of success developing vaccines to help people all over the world lead healthier lives,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Congratulations to EpiVax on attracting this federal funding, which is another notable achievement for Rhode Island’s growing biotech industry.”
The program will be carried out by scientists with a wide range of influenza expertise across immunology, vaccinology, structural biology, bioinformatics, animal infection models and vaccine manufacture. The participating institutions include EpiVax (Annie De Groot, William Martin, Lenny Moise), UMASS Medical School (Celia Schiffer), Protein Sciences, recently acquired by Sanofi Pasteur (Indresh Srivastava), and The University of Georgia (Ted Ross).
EpiVax’s first-generation engineered H7N9 product is currently under clinical trial in Adelaide, Australia, managed by a team at Flinders University and Vaxine. Nikolai Petrovsky, Vaxine’s Research Director, commented “We are proud to be the first in the world to test in humans EpiVax’s innovative approach to modifying flu proteins to make them more immunogenic”.
EpiVax is a world leader in the fields of immune engineering and vaccine design. EpiVax’s immunogenicity screening tools are used by a global roster of companies to design and optimize therapeutic proteins and vaccines.
Research reported in this press release is supported by the NIAID of the National Institutes of Health under grant number R01AI132205. This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.