CUBRC, Inc.’s President and CEO, Tom McMahon, announced today that CUBRC’s Biological and Medical Sciences team, in collaboration with EpiVax, Inc., has received a four-year grant worth $1.87 million from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within the Department of Defense (DoD).
CUBRC, EpiVax and scientists at the University of Florida will be investigating immune cells from patients that were previously infected with Burkholderia pseudomallei to understand how this bacterium evades the human immune system and use that information to engineer an effective vaccine. Mr. McMahon stated, “We are truly thankful for DTRA’s confidence in our proposal to research vaccine antigens for prevention of Burkholderia pseudomallei infections, an important pathogen of biothreat potential.”
CUBRC will leverage its technical expertise in biomedical R&D and its experience leading large federal government grants and contracts in collaboration with EpiVax and the University of Florida to execute the research. “A successful outcome of this basic research program will provide answers to some very difficult questions about how this pathogen evades the host immune system and position our team to identify multiple vaccine candidates for advanced development,” according to Katie Edwards, Ph.D., CUBRC’s Co-Principal Investigator and program lead.
EpiVax contributes first in class immuno-informatics tools to speed the pace of vaccine development and provide rapid clues about the likelihood of success in human trials. “EpiVax has worked hard to be at the forefront of vaccine antigen selection using our proprietary computational vaccinology tools. These tools make it possible to develop safer, more efficient vaccines and accelerate the development of new vaccines for national biodefense,” stated Annie De Groot, MD, EpiVax’s CEO and Co-Principal Investigator for the program.
About CUBRC, Inc.
CUBRC is an independent not-for-profit scientific corporation that executes Research, Development, Testing and Systems Integration programs in Medical Sciences, Chemical and Biological Defense, Data Science and Information Fusion, Command and Control, and Hypersonics. To learn more about CUBRC, please visit www.cubrc.org.
About EpiVax, Inc.
EpiVax, Inc. is a privately-held biotechnology company that is focused on the development of vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious diseases, autoimmunity and cancer. Led by Dr. Annie S. De Groot, M.D., an internationally recognized vaccine design thought leader, EpiVax has enjoyed significant success in the fields of immunology and bioinformatics. The immunoinformatics team at EpiVax have also developed the cloud-based ISPRI and iVAX toolkits, used by a global roster of companies to design and optimize therapeutic proteins and vaccines.
About Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bpm) is a highly pathogenic bacterium and Tier-1 select agent (biothreat), that is of concern due to the threat of malicious use by adversaries. Bpm causes melioidosis, a severe tropical disease that is hyperendemic in Southeast Asia and northern Australia with the global distribution of Bpm expanding. Natural infection of military personnel deployed in endemic areas is also a significant concern. Bpm is inherently resistant to a wide spectrum of antibiotics and treatment with ineffective antibiotics may result in case fatality rates >70%. Currently there are no effective vaccines for protection against melioidosis. All vaccines studied to date have not provided sterile immunity or long-term protection in animal models.
DTRA Funding Statement:
The project referenced in this press release is sponsored by the Department of the Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the federal government, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The entire project (~$1.87M) will be financed with federal money.