HHS awards $232 million in biodefense contracts for vaccine development

October 07, 2004

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced four new contracts totaling more than $232 million to fund development of new vaccines against three potential agents of bioterrorism: smallpox, plague and tularemia. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will administer the contracts.

"We are moving as quickly as possible to develop new vaccines to ensure that our nation is protected against an array of potential bioterror agents," Secretary Thompson said. "These new contracts are the next steps in our plans to build a robust stockpile of critical medical countermeasures and supplies, so we are even more prepared to respond to a biological attack or outbreak."

These awards respond to a key objective of the NIAID biodefense research agenda, which emphasizes the development of new and improved medical products against "Category A" agents--those considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pose the greatest threat to national security.

The smallpox awards continue advanced development work that began in February 2003 on two modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine candidates. These contracts will support larger scale manufacturing of the vaccines as well as further safety and effectiveness studies in animals and humans. The tularemia and plague awards will fund early-stage product development of the respective vaccines, which will include dosage formulation, pilot batch production and initial clinical assessment. All four contracts are for purchases of vaccine lots intended for research use. Any future purchases of additional vaccines for stockpiling in the event of an emergency will depend on the results of the research currently underway.

"In a short period of time, we have greatly expanded our partnerships with industry to spur the development of vaccines against the most deadly agents of bioterrorism," said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "These important new contracts reflect our commitment to develop medical tools to protect citizens against pathogens that could be deliberately introduced into society."

NIAID awarded two contracts totaling up to $177 million for advanced development of MVA vaccines against smallpox. The three-year contracts were awarded to Bavarian Nordic A/S of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Acambis, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Cambridge, England. MVA is a highly weakened form of the vaccinia virus that cannot replicate in human cells.

Previous NIAID research has demonstrated that MVA is nearly as effective as the standard smallpox vaccine, making it a promising candidate for use in children and pregnant women as well as people with weakened immune systems or skin conditions such as eczema. The new contracts will allow the companies to continue the work they began under contracts awarded in February 2003.

For the plague vaccine, NIAID awarded a contract to Avecia Biotechnology, Ltd., of Manchester, England. The three-year, $50.7 million contract covers the manufacture of a new plague vaccine as well as animal testing and initial human trials. There is currently no licensed plague vaccine, and the pneumonic form of the disease, which infects the lungs and can spread from person to person through the air, is nearly always fatal unless antibiotic treatment is started within 24 hours of infection.

NIAID also modified an existing contract with DynPort Vaccine Company LLC of Frederick, Md., to include the manufacture of a pilot batch of live, attenuated tularemia vaccine. The three-year, $4.5 million contract modification also covers stability testing of the vaccine. Tularemia is a highly infectious bacterial disease most often transmitted by ticks and insects. In humans, illness is characterized by intermittent fever, headache and swelling of the lymph nodes. This live, attenuated vaccine contains a weakened form of the tularemia bacterium, enabling the immune system to recognize and produce neutralizing antibodies against the bacterium if it is encountered again.
NIAID is a component of NIH, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIAID supports basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and illness from potential agents of bioterrorism. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.

Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Infectious Diseases Articles from Brightsurf:

Understanding the spread of infectious diseases
Physicists at M√ľnster University (Germany) have shown in model simulations that the COVID-19 infection rates decrease significantly through social distancing.

Forecasting elections with a model of infectious diseases
Election forecasting is an innately challenging endeavor, with results that can be difficult to interpret and may leave many questions unanswered after close races unfold.

COVID-19 a reminder of the challenge of emerging infectious diseases
The emergence and rapid increase in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus, pose complex challenges to the global public health, research and medical communities, write federal scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.

Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.

Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.

Math shows how human behavior spreads infectious diseases
Mathematics can help public health workers better understand and influence human behaviors that lead to the spread of infectious disease, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Many Americans say infectious and emerging diseases in other countries will threaten the US
An overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a 'major' or 'minor' threat to the U.S. in the next few years, but more than half (61%) say they are confident the federal government can prevent a major infectious disease outbreak in the US, according to a new national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology.

Read More: Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.