NIAID awards $46.3 million in vax grants and contracts

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded two grants to vaccine makers for anthrax and hepatitis B vaccines, respectively. Emergent BioSolutions received a contract worth up to $28.7 million for its third generation anthrax vaccine. Dynavax Technologies, based in Berkeley, CA, received a portion of a five-year, $17.6 million grant.

Emergent's new contract expands upon development efforts being conducted under a contract awarded in September 2008. The featured vaccine in the deal is a combination of the company's BioThrax vaccine and immunostimulatory VaxImmune. With this new contract, the potential funding from the U.S. government for this third generation anthrax vaccine candidate increases to more than $58 million, according to a statement. Emergent has previously won contracts worth more than $400 million for its anthrax vaccines, but the program seemed to be in trouble recently as Congress considered axing $2 billion of Project Bioshield's $5.6 billion budget.

NIAID's other grant was awarded to Dr. Jacques Banchereau of the Baylor Institute of Immunology Research. Part of that grant will be spent on Dynavax Technologies' promising hepatitis B vaccine, Heplisav. After some initial issues, Heplisav has performed promisingly in trials.

"Heplisav...has already demonstrated an ability to protect certain patients, for example, the elderly and chronically ill who are normally less- or non-responsive to conventional vaccines," says Robert Coffman, Dynavax's chief scientific officer, in a release. "With this grant we have the opportunity to study the underlying mechanisms that affect a target population's ability to respond to immunization."

- read the Emergent release
- and here's the Dynavax announcement
- check out the Washington Business Journal's article