Integrated BioTherapeutics Inc. (IBT) announced today that it has been awarded a $6.6 million grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop a vaccine that can protect against all ebolaviruses. The research is led by Co-Principal Investigators Dr. M. Javad Aman, Chief Scientific Officer at IBT, and Drs. Erica Ollmann Saphire and William R. Schief at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, California. The team of investigators also includes Dr. Kartik Chandran at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York; Dr. John M. Dye at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Frederick, Maryland; Dr. Xiangguo Qiu lab at Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Dr. Dorit Hanein at Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP) Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California.
The filoviruses Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, and Marburg are highly pathogenic and cause hemorrhagic fever in humans. Outbreaks of these viruses can occur suddenly and spread rapidly. Between 40 percent and 90 percent of infections in humans are lethal. The recent Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa was caused by the Zaire Ebolavirus (EBOV), which led to nearly 29,000 infections and more than 11,000 deaths.
The filoviruses rely on a single protein on their surface, termed glycoprotein, to infect humans. Because of its surface location, filovirus glycoproteins are primary targets for vaccine development.
Although EBOV vaccination efforts have shown tremendous promise, current candidate vaccines provide no protection against other filoviruses that also present an outbreak risk. The lack of cross protection is largely due to structural differences between various filovirus glycoproteins. Recently, this team of investigators and others demonstrated that broadly neutralizing antibodies exist that neutralize and protect against all ebolaviruses, raising the hope that a broadly protective vaccine can be developed to protect against future ebolavirus outbreaks, regardless of the causative virus species.
Using state-of-the-art approaches for immunogen design, the investigators will use EBOV glycoprotein as a basis for the rational design and production of pan-ebolavirus vaccine candidates to promote broadly protective immune responses that target vulnerable structural sites shared among all ebolaviruses. During the five-year funding period, the team will first examine the immune response and protection of mice and guinea pigs to select highly active, engineered immunogens. Next, the selected immunogens will be tested again in rodents and then in nonhuman primates to identify promising candidates for advanced preclinical development.
"This award will enable us to address a pressing global public health need, namely a single vaccine that can protect against all ebolaviruses. To meet this challenge, we have assembled a unique team of experts in immunogen design, structural biology, vaccine development and animal models of filovirus infection," said Dr. M. Javad Aman.
"A novel aspect of the program will be the use of state-of-the-art imaging and computational approaches. This design work will help us craft a vaccine to steer the immune response in the right directions," added Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire.
"We are excited to participate in this collaboration and to test novel immunogen design strategies for their ability to focus antibody responses to conserved epitopes on ebolaviruses. This will be a fantastic test for structure-based vaccine design, and it may give us insights on how to make vaccines for other more variable viruses," added Dr. William Schief.
Upon completion of this research, IBT anticipates transitioning the most promising candidates toward advanced development, including clinical testing and licensure by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
About Integrated BioTherapeutics (IBT)
IBT is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery of novel vaccines and therapies for emerging infectious diseases with a pipeline that includes promising product candidates for bacterial and viral infections, including unique pan-filovirus immunotherapeutics and vaccines, vaccines for Staphylococcal infections, and a variety of other product candidates for emerging viruses. Located in Rockville, Maryland, IBT has a close working relationship with United States government agencies, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Department of Defense (DOD), the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), as well as many biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories. For more information, visit www.integratedbiotherapeutics.com.
About The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)
The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, California, and Jupiter, Florida, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards doctoral degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top 10 of its kind in the nation. In October 2016, TSRI announced a strategic affiliation with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), representing a renewed commitment to the discovery and development of new medicines to address unmet medical needs. For more information, see http://www.scripps.edu/.