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October 19, 2020 08:31pm
By Sara Karlovitch, Assistant Editor
The Department of Defense awarded Adaptive Phage Therapeutics $9.8 million for the development of multiple high-priority, bacteriophage-based display vaccine candidates against COVID-19.
The Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT) $9.8 million for the development of multiple high-priority, bacteriophage-based display vaccine candidates against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
APT is currently the only company investigating a phage-based COVID-19 vaccine program that is set to begin clinical trials in 2020, according to a company press release. The award from the DoD will support APT’s ability to advance and evaluate vaccine candidates in phase 1 clinical trials this year.
Therapeutic use of phage-based vaccines is well-understood and has a favorable safety profile, offering specific advantages as a vaccine candidate option, according to APT. Phage-based vaccines work by establishing a platform approach that provides the opportunity to adjust the vaccine in response to mutations in the coronavirus. Phage-based vaccines are also self-adjuvanted, which means they are capable of automatically activating and boosting immune response, allowing for multiple antigens to be displayed, according to APT.
“A vaccine against COVID-19 will be a critical enabler to protect our service members and the American people,” said Thomas Dunn, acting program manager, Naval Advanced Medical Development, Naval Medical Research Center, in a press release. “This research contract will expedite prospective efforts to deliver a safe and effective phage-vaccine."
Additionally, recent studies have demonstrated that immunity to COVID-19 may be transient and require frequent booster vaccinations in order to maintain immunity. For this reason, APT has been investigating delivery of the vaccine orally in the form of a lozenge that would facilitate necessary booster doses with greater ease.
“We anticipate phase 1 trials to demonstrate safety and immunogenicity,” said Greg Merril, CEO and co-founder, APT, in the press release. “The potential benefits of a phage-based vaccine include versatility for route of administration (mucosal and intramuscular), including a potential oral lozenge, adaptability to virus mutations, speed of development and cost-effectiveness. These benefits, along with the established safety profile of phage, offer hope as a potential tool in mitigating this terrible pandemic.”
Merril noted that the company is also ready to rapidly scale up production in the United States should the vaccine be approved by the FDA.
“We are fully committed to deploying our facilities and our staff to fight the impact of this public health crisis,” Merril said.
Adaptive Phage Therapeutics Receives Department of Defense Award for Development of COVID-19 Vaccine. Gathersburg, MD: Adaptive Phage Therapeutics; August 20, 2020. businesswire.com/news/home/20200820005593/en. Accessed August 21, 2020.