Baltimore-based Pharos secures Zika vaccine tech


The race to advance a Zika vaccine will have a new entrant in Baltimore-based Pharos Biologicals. The development-stage company this week announced it has been awarded technology for influenza and flavivirus vaccines from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The patented Lysosome-Associated Membrane Protein DNA vaccine technology, the company says, features a rapid development timeline, is highly stable and directly delivers antigens to cell proteins to prompt immune responses. Invented by Johns Hopkins professor and Pharos founder Dr. J. Thomas August, the vaccines utilize normal cellular mechanisms to bolster vaccine immune responses and do not contain live virus, the company’s statement said.

Pharos anticipates it will be able to start Phase I testing with the platform in Zika this fall. Back in February, Plymouth Meeting, PA-based Inovio said it’s shooting to start a Phase I Zika vaccine trial on the same timeline while the U.S. National Institutes of Health that month said it’s looking to start Phase I testing this summer.

Pharos joins a Zika vaccine R&D scramble that features more than 18 companies and organizations as the virus has raced around the globe to more 50 countries and territories, according to WHO figures. Founded in 2015, the Baltimore-based company also has aspirations in dengue and influenza. David Wise, an executive in the med-tech startup and venture capital community in Baltimore, serves as CEO.

In October 2015, the LAMP vaccine tech showed commercial promise when Immunomic Therapeutics sold a license for allergen vaccines to Japan’s Astellas for $300 million; Johns Hopkins previously awarded that license.

- here’s the release

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An image predicting the spread of Zika, courtesy of