Baltimore biotechs are teaming up in the fight against the Lassa virus.
Profectus Biosciences and Emergent Biosolutions will receive $36 million over five yearesin funding from the Oslo, Norway–based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to create a vaccine against the rat-borne virus. There is currently no vaccine for Lassa virus, which officials said is a threat to public health in West Africa. CEPI announced the deal Thursday.
Our CEO Richard Hatchett highlights the public health threat posed by Lassa virus. This is why we are partnering with Profectus BioSciences, @emergentbiosolu, and @PATHTweets to create a vaccine against this disease. Find out more: https://t.co/9WKEWU7MbS #OutsmartEpidemics pic.twitter.com/L5PRxxb4U1
Profectus, located off Dundalk Ave., will receive $4.3 million in Phase 1 to develop its Lassa vaccine. We’ve previously covered the company’s involvement in efforts to develop a vaccine for Ebola. Gaithersburg-based Emergent Biosolutions, a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company with expanding manufacturing operations in the city, will provide technical and manufacturing assistance as part of the deal. In a release, Emergent specifically said its Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing in Bayview was designed to handle an increase in manufacturing during public health emergencies.
In turn, Profectus and Emergent have their own agreement that gives Emergent an exclusive option to license and continue to develop the vaccine.
While 80 percent of people who become infected show no symptoms, Nigeria is facing its largest-ever outbreak of the disease, which has resulted in 121 deaths. Outbreaks have also been reported in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, according to CEPI.
The companies seem to have a Baltimore-centered partnership budding, as they also received a $25M grant from CEPI to develop a vaccine for Nipah virus earlier this year.