PharmAthene, an Annapolis, Md.-based biodefense company developing medical countermeasures against biological and chemical threats, has announced the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, has awarded the company a contract, valued at up to $28.1 million if all contract options are exercised, for the development of a next-generation anthrax vaccine based on the company's proprietary rPA anthrax vaccine technology platform.
Various government agencies have acknowledged the need to develop and stockpile next generation anthrax vaccines employing modern vaccine technology, which offer the potential for improved safety, convenience, cost-effectiveness and more rapid immunity.
PharmAthene's anthrax vaccine will be lyophilized for optimal ease of storage and administration. Based on preliminary in vitro and in vivo animal data, the company believes the new lyophilized formulation should result in a vaccine that is thermostable and shows improved long-term stability, cold-chain-free storage stability and enhanced immunopotency compared to existing liquid anthrax vaccines.
Eric I. Richman, president and CEO, said, "A lyophilized, next generation anthrax vaccine could be effective in fewer doses and be stored and distributed at room temperature, an important advantage for deployment in the government's civilian Strategic National Stockpile."
PharmAthene previously has demonstrated that a lyophilized rPA vaccine candidate is structurally stable and protected mice from a lethal dose of anthrax spores in a challenge assay after storage at various temperatures up to 70 degrees Centigrade, or 158 degrees Fahrenheit.