EpiVax Designing New Q Fever Vaccine for DTRA Contract
PROVIDENCE, RI – Vaccine development will be dramatically accelerated if the VaxCelerate group has its way. Academic and industry organizations from around the world, lead by Mark Poznansky of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC), (Massachusetts General Hospital) and Annie De Groot of EpiVax (Providence, Rhode Island) have joined forces to focus on rapid vaccine development for emerging infectious disease. The VaxCelerate consortium also includes collaborators from Colorado State University in Fort Collins; InnatOss Laboratories in Oss, the Netherlands and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. EpiVax will contribute its 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.
DTRA funding for the Q Fever vaccine to be developed by VaxCelerate has come on the heels of progressive outbreaks of new infectious diseases like SARS, H1N1, MERS-CoV and Ebola, for which vaccines were never successfully deployed or only were released at the end of the epidemic. Following a delayed response to the H1N1 flu in 2009, the U.S. federal government has made major investments in rapid vaccine manufacturing approaches for influenza and has established a number of efforts that can accelerate the pace of development for new vaccines. “The quickening pace at which new infectious diseases appear in humans, and their potential for rapid transmission across the globe, require a new way of developing vaccines for these threats,” said Dr. Mark Poznansky, the Director of VIC and Principal Investigator of the project.
The VaxCelerate effort received early funding from the Defense Advanced Programs Agency (DARPA), and integrates cutting-edge technologies into an end-to-end vaccine development process. The consortium was able to successfully develop and test a new vaccine for Lassa fever in 120 days, starting only from genomic data on the virus. The current project focuses on development of an RNA-based vaccine that will promote protective responses against the Q fever bacteria without the potential safety issues that prevent existing vaccine candidates from receiving US regulatory approval for use in humans.
About Q Fever
Q fever is a worldwide disease with acute and chronic stages caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary reservoirs although a variety of species may be infected. Humans are often very susceptible to the disease, and very few organisms may be required to cause infection.