Mosquito-borne disease identified as emerging public health threat for Americans
CRANBURY, NJ, April 4, 2013 – VaxInnate Corporation announced today that it has been awarded a grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to fund the development of a recombinant vaccine for the prevention of dengue, a disease that kills an estimated 25,000 people annually. VaxInnate is a biotechnology firm pioneering breakthrough technology for developing novel vaccines.
The grant provides funding of $2.2 million over a period of three years to develop a recombinant tetravalent dengue vaccine using VaxInnate’s proprietary technology. The technology involves genetically fusing vaccine antigens to the bacterial protein flagellin, a potent stimulator of the innate immune system, which dramatically improves the potency, manufacturing capacity and cost-effectiveness of vaccines.
NIAID is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIAID conducts and supports research to better understand, treat and prevent infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases.
“We’re pleased to receive this grant and look forward to working with NIAID to develop a vaccine to prevent dengue, a disease that poses an increasing public health threat worldwide,” said Wayne Pisano, President and CEO of VaxInnate. “VaxInnate’s selection for this grant is another endorsement of the potential of our proprietary technology to meet critical and emerging public health threats.”
The NIAID grant is VaxInnate’s fourth funding opportunity from the U.S. Government. The company previously received earmarks from the Department of Defense (DoD) for the development of vaccines to prevent dengue and malaria. Under a 2011 contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), VaxInnate is using recombinant technology to develop pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines.
Growing Threat of Dengue
Dengue — pronounced den’ gee — is a mosquito-borne viral disease. There are four distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue. Dengue causes a flu-like illness marked by fever, severe headaches and extreme joint and muscle pain. The severe form of the disease is dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. There is no cure for dengue infection; patients are treated with fluids and drugs to reduce fever.
There are an estimated 100 million cases of dengue and 25,000 deaths annually. Dengue is endemic in at least 100 countries in Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean. Although the disease was primarily associated with tropical and sub-tropical areas, dengue has been growing dramatically in recent decades.
Transmission has increased predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas and has become a major international public health concern. Half the world’s population of 2.5 billion people is now at risk for dengue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Spread of the disease is blamed in part on growing international trade, which carries infected mosquitoes around the world in cargo.
Although dengue has rarely occurred in the continental United States, it is endemic in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and many tourist destinations popular with Americans. Dengue outbreaks were reported in Hawaii in 2001, Texas in 2005 and the Florida Keys between 2009 and 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
VaxInnate is a privately-held biotechnology company in Cranbury, NJ that is pioneering breakthrough technology for use in developing novel and proprietary vaccines. VaxInnate’s vaccines focus on infectious diseases, including seasonal and pandemic flu, dengue and malaria.
In 2011, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), awarded a contract to VaxInnate worth up to $196 million over five years to fund the development of seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines using recombinant technology.
VaxInnate has already generated positive Phase I and Phase II clinical data for its flu vaccines. These prototype vaccines also demonstrated superior potency in elderly subjects. For more information about VaxInnate, please visit https://vaxinnate.com.