Anthrax vaccine maker wins NIAID grants

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Jul 29, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Emergent BioSolutions Inc. recently announced it had secured two federal grants totaling $4.5 million for development of its botulism and next-generation anthrax vaccine candidates.

Emergent, maker of the nation's only licensed anthrax vaccine, announced the grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in a Jul 24 news release.

One grant is for the continued development of a serotype A and B recombinant botulinum toxin vaccine over a 3-year period, the company said. The grant is the first the company has received for its botulism vaccine program.

The other grant, covering 5 years, is for animal testing of various formulations of a next-generation anthrax vaccine, plus manufacturing of limited amounts of the vaccine for clinical testing, the company said.

The company gave some details on one of its anthrax vaccine candidates, called AV7909. It consists of the licensed vaccine, BioThrax (also known as Anthrax Vaccine Absorbed), plus an adjuvant called CPG 7909, developed by Coley Pharmaceutical Group. It has been tested successfully in nonclinical studies and a phase 1/2 clinical trial, the company said. In the clinical trial, two doses of AV7909 elicited the same levels of antibodies against anthrax protective antigen as were elicited by three doses of Biothrax alone, officials said.

Emergent's recombinant botulinum vaccine, called rBOT, is made of multiple serotypes of botulinum toxin, which have been rendered safe through genetic engineering, the company said. A formulation containing serotypes A and B and another containing A, B, and E have been found efficacious in animals when delivered in a single dose.

The US military requires soldiers deployed in high-risk areas such as the Middle East to receive BioThrax, which involves a series of six doses over 18 months, followed by annual booster shots. The federal government is seeking to develop an anthrax vaccine that requires fewer doses and has fewer side effects.

See also:

Jul 24 Emergent news release
http://investors.emergentbiosolutions.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=202582&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1178612

May 7 CIDRAP News story "VaxGen sells anthrax vaccine to rival firm

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