CSU’s BioMARC awarded $4.6M contract to develop new encephalitis vaccines

Wednesday January 13, 2016 0 comments Tags: Fort Collins, CSU BioMARC, Dennis Pierro, DOD, Ebola virus, Marburg virus, encephalitis


FORT COLLINS -- Colorado State University today announced its  Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) has been awarded a 10-month, $4.6 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to help develop new vaccines to fight encephalitic viruses that cause inflammation of the brain.CSU_logoUSE_1

The award is an extension of the successful work already performed at BioMARC on Ebola and Marburgh virus vaccines, CSU said.

BioMARC is a high-containment biopharmaceutical unit launched by CSU in 2006. The new funding will be used to develop vaccines for three additional viruses: Western, Eastern and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis.

The mosquito-borne viruses can cause severe long-term disease and possibly death in humans, CSU said.

There are currently no licensed FDA-approved human vaccines for protection from or treatment of the viruses.

The subcontract was awarded by Battelle, a research organization that serves the DoD Medical Countermeasure Systems Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program.

CSU said BioMARC will produce the vaccines using a viral replicon particle technology that works to better immunize people.

“I believe that this second award reflects a level of  confidence in our program by the DoD,” said Dennis Pierro, BioMARC’s director and an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and pathology at CSU.

“Our facilities and staff are very well-suited to help with product types such as VRP vaccines that are created using advanced biotechnology methodologies. With this infrastructure, BioMARC at CSU plays an important role in the creation of the next generation of vaccines.”

While the primary purpose of the vaccines would be to protect soldiers, CSU said it’s possible the vaccines could also be used to combat endemic outbreaks among the civilian population.

BioMARC has about 30 full-time employees and 12 CSU students working at the facility.