Colorado State University’s Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) has been awarded $2 million by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to aid in the development and manufacturing of a vaccine to protect against infection by filoviruses, including the Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The $2 million subcontract was awarded by Battelle Memorial Institute, a research organization that serves the DoD Medical Countermeasure Systems Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program (MCS-JVAP). Among MCS-JVAP’s requirements is to develop a vaccine to protect soldiers from exposure to filoviruses, which cause several types of hemorrhagic fever.
BioMARC will make contributions toward furthering the development of a replicon vaccine platform containing a non-infectious Ebola antigen, which has been shown to protect nonhuman primates from an intramuscular and aerosol challenge with the Ebola virus.
To date, there are no licensed or U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved human vaccines or therapeutics to protect against or treat filovirus infections. Diseases caused by filoviruses have high mortality rates; as many as 90 percent of those infected may die.
While the primary purpose of the Ebola vaccine would be to protect U.S. soldiers, it is possible that such a vaccine could be used for endemic outbreaks of filovirus infection. The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more than 3,400 people since March 2014, according to the World Health Organization.
“We welcome the opportunity to assist in a project that is of such great significance to protecting human health,” said Dennis Pierro, BioMARC’s director and a professor at Colorado State University. “BioMARC was created to help with such projects.”
BioMARC is a nonprofit contract manufacturing organization that specializes in manufacturing biological products classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as requiring higher containment, with a Biosafety Level 3 rating, due to the safety profile of the materials.
Source: Colorado State University press release, adapted.