Engility to conduct Chikungunya vaccine trials under $10M U.S. Army contract

lab

After tying the knot with Sanofi on testing a Zika vaccine candidate, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has enlisted Engility for a $10 million project testing vaccines designed to fight the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus.

Engility won the 5-year contract under a $900 million U.S. Army medical product research and development pact. With the money, Engility will also conduct tests of Themis’ Chikungunya vaccine candidate, which the biotech says is the “most advanced” vaccine of its kind, in Puerto Rico, as supported by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Symptoms of a Chikungunya infection include severe fever and joint pain, which are sometimes very similar to dengue fever, thus making diagnosis difficult. Though the acute signs usually dissipate in less than two weeks, the infection can lead to chronic joint pain--a complication that distinguishes it from dengue.

Survey

Survey: The Critical Role of Innovation in Launching Successful OTC Products

This research aims to understand the importance of product innovation and dose forms in driving new product design and development, consumer engagement and purchase interest for Over-the-Counter medicines. The first 50 qualified respondents will receive a $5 Amazon gift card. Take the survey now.

Chikungunya virus was first isolated in 1953 and has sparked sporadic outbreaks, mainly in Africa and Asia. But there still isn't a marketable vaccine to combat it.

Toward the end of last century, scientists with the U.S. Army had a candidate--and a promising one at that. As the Phase II study on the candidate published in 2000 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene shows, 57 out of 58 evaluable participants developed an antibody by day 28. Research on that vaccine was suspended, however, because of lack of funding and interest.

It might be no coincidence that the U.S. Army is picking up developing the vaccine, as the disease recently started spreading in the U.S. It first became a nationally notifiable condition, registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015. As the agency’s data show, as of October 4, a total of 90 Chikungunya cases have been reported in 31 states this year.

Virginia-based Engility is a longtime contractor to the U.S. defense and national security system. The services it provides sprawl from healthcare to space missions to information security.

Related Articles:
Themis pushes into PhII with Chikungunya vax candidate
Sanofi enlists for top Army hospital’s fight against Zika virus
Immunovaccine pairs with security firm Leidos on Zika work

Suggested Articles

After countless headlines from a Dengvaxia safety scandal in the Philippines, officials are now considering using the Sanofi vaccine again.

Merck's oncology superstar Keytruda has been stealing the spotlight, but in vaccines, the drugmaker has growth figures to tout.

Experts are pushing for the introduction of J&J's vaccine in the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.