BARDA announced the first eight contract awards “under an initiative to help modernize and improve the nation’s infrastructure for producing medical countermeasures that protect against natural and man-made biological threats.” BARDA is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The awards total US$55 million for the initial phase and up to $100 million over three years, and support the following innovations (full text from announcement):
- VaxDesign will further develop its MIMIC platform, an in vitro (test-tube-based) human immune system mimetic designed to accelerate evaluation of candidate and stockpiled vaccine safety and effectiveness by supplementing animal testing.
- PATH will test multiple innovative formulation chemistries and strategies to increase the shelf-life of influenza vaccines, which has implications for the national vaccine stockpile as well as cold-chain requirements domestically and in developing countries.
- IDRI will develop and evaluate innovative adjuvant formulations to enhance influenza vaccine immunogenicity and cross-protection to make them more effective against novel viral strains that may cause the next pandemic.
- Pfenex will apply its innovative Pfenex Expression Technology Platform to the development of optimized bioprocesses for high yield production of a stable candidate anthrax vaccine.
- Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics will address a critical issue in the time required to begin manufacturing of influenza vaccine against a newly identified strain by investigating techniques for the rapid development of optimized influenza seed virus.
- Rapid Micro Biosystems will address a critical issue in the time required for release of influenza vaccine after manufacturing by developing methods for accelerated sterility testing. Together, these improvements could shave weeks off the influenza vaccine manufacturing and product release schedule.
- 3M and Northrop Grumman will develop integrated diagnostic capabilities for rapid, high-throughput surveillance and molecular diagnostics.