The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has selected a vaccine platform from Bavarian Nordic A/S for the development of a vaccine against two potential biological threats to national security – Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei.
Under this new contract Bavarian Nordic will design, generate and test recombinant vaccines against Burkholderia. If the contract yields a successful proof of concept, DTRA may support further development of the vaccine through a larger contract award.
The technology, known as MVA-BN (Modified Vaccinia Ankara – Bavarian Nordic), is a robust and adaptable vaccine platform suitable for addressing a wide variety of infectious diseases. In addition to developing MVA-BN as a safer smallpox vaccine essential to protecting the immune-compromised population, Bavarian Nordic has conducted preclinical and clinical studies of recombinant MVA-BN-based vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases and numerous types of cancer.
“The award of this contract illustrates the strength of our MVA-BN vaccine platform technology, which has been developed through a decade-long partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” said Anders Hedegaard, President and CEO of Bavarian Nordic. “As part of our strategy to expand our biodefense business beyond smallpox, we are pleased to add DTRA to our list of government partners with whom we work to develop novel biodefense vaccines.”
Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei are bacterial pathogens that have been determined to pose a material threat sufficient to affect the United States’ national security. B. pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a human disease endemic in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. B. mallei causes glanders, a zoonotic disease primarily occurring in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central/South America. Because of the lengthy antibiotic therapy required to treat melioidosis and glanders, the suboptimal clinical outcomes, possible biothreat applications, and public health implications, there is significant interest in developing new vaccines capable of protecting against these agents, for which effective vaccines do not currently exist.
DTRA is now the fourth U.S. agency to collaborate with Bavarian Nordic on the development of novel biodefense vaccines. Other ongoing collaborations include the development of vaccines against smallpox, filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg) and foot-and-mouth disease, for which the company has received funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.