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The National Institutes of Health, National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases awarded a grant in the amount of $590,912 to EpiVax, Inc. in support of the development of a multi-epitope TB vaccine. This two-year award will allow EpiVax, to pursue pre-clinical studies leading to the optimization of its TB genome-derived DNA vaccine for the prevention of tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis (TB), which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is responsible for the death of more than 2 million people annually. More than 9 million people fall ill with the highly contagious disease every year. The main burden of illness falls on people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV and TB co-infection is common and TB is the most frequent cause of death from AIDS. More than two thirds of individuals carry the germ for tuberculosis and carry a 10 % risk of developing TB disease. It is this population of latently infected individuals who will be targeted by the new EpiVax vaccine. Unlike the existing vaccine (BCG) which is the most widely used vaccine to prevent childhood TB, the EpiVax vaccine, which is based on a computational analysis of all available TB genomes, is designed to be effective for adults and safe for use in HIV infected individuals. The NIH award will fund studies to optimize the EpiVax vaccine in mice, in collaboration with Dr. Hardy Kornfeld, an internationally recognized expert at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

EpiVax is a privately held biotech company located in Providence Rhode Island. Sequella Global TB Foundation provided initial funding for the TB research to be carried out under this award under the guidance of Dr. Carol Nacy, in 1999. The Sequella award for the initial work on this vaccine was one of two awards that established EpiVax as a biotech company (an additional award from the Slater Biotechnology Foundation in Rhode Island provided seed funding for EpiVax’ HIV vaccine, also currently in development).

EpiVax, Inc. is dedicated to merging in vitro immunology research with bioinformatics to generate new therapeutics for infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases. For more information about EpiVax, please visit http: www.epivax.com.