Ichor Medical Systems of San Diego has been awarded a contract through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and supported by the U.S. Army Research Office for up to $20.2 million of funding over five years, including a base period award of $8.6M.
The award is part of a DARPA program called Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics: Prophylactic Options to Environmental and Contagious Threats (ADEPT: PROTECT) aimed at developing new platform technologies that could be safely and rapidly deployed to the U.S. population and military personnel to provide immediate protection in the event of an infectious outbreak or biological weapons attack.
The program will fund the development and clinical assessment of Ichor’s TriGrid electroporation system as a DNA-based antibody delivery platform to produce protective antibodies for passive immunoprophylaxis.
While active immunization with traditional vaccines is effective at stimulating the immune system to generate protective antibodies, such responses are not immediate and may require multiple doses of the vaccine.
In contrast, the TriGrid technology could be used to bypass the immune system to directly deliver DNA sequences encoding protective antibodies into an infected or exposed individual. This approach would result in rapid production of antibodies by the individual providing immediate protection against the pathogen.
“We are excited for this new opportunity with the Department of Defense to apply the TriGrid technology to another area of high priority for national security,” said Bob Bernard, Ichor CEO. “Whether to address unknown bioterrorist threats or pandemic disease, success of this approach would revamp traditional vaccine processes and position the TriGrid favorably for use in other broad spectrum biodefense and pandemic applications.”
Source: Ichor press release, adapted. TriGrid is a trademarked, protected term by Ichor Medical Systems