Versatope Therapeutics has been awarded a contract with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) worth up to $17.9M over five years. The award is through the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) program to advance Versatope's universal influenza vaccine candidate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), influenza vaccines were 29% effective during the last season due to the emergence of new viral strains. The NIAID contract will support Versatope's goal of producing an influenza vaccine designed to protect against multiple strains using extracellular bacterial vesicles. NIAID funding will support manufacturing, stability and human clinical studies to demonstrate safety and tolerability in healthy volunteers.
"The support from NIAID will advance Versatope's goal of developing a novel universal influenza vaccine and creating new biotechnology jobs in Lowell, Massachusetts," said Christopher Locher, Ph.D., CEO of Versatope Therapeutics. "This is a big advance for our program toward clinical studies and commercialization."
"Versatope Therapeutics and its innovations in the biotech industry is driving economic growth and development for the life sciences in Commonwealth,” Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, Karyn Polito said. “Through its partnership with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, we are pleased that Versatope continues to be an innovator in biopharmaceutical manufacturing."
Shortly after founding Versatope in 2017, Christopher Locher participated in MassBio's MassCONNECT biotech entrepreneurship mentorship program.
"As a graduate of our MassCONNECT mentorship program, the NIAID funding represents a huge milestone for Versatope Therapeutics as they advance their R&D activities," said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. "We are proud to have Versatope be a part of the Massachusetts life sciences community and look forward to their successes as they advance their cutting-edge vaccine technology for patients worldwide."
"We are thrilled to celebrate Versatope Therapeutics' growth as a great example of the opportunity available to companies in the Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem,” Travis McCready, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center said. “The synthetic biology space is exciting, carrying enormous potential for saving lives and improving patient care. Companies like Versatope have provided a strong blueprint for success to other biotech startups in Massachusetts."
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N2019C00060.