NIAID awards grant to TechnoVax to develop universal flu vaccine

TechnoVax, Inc., a Tarrytown, New York-based vaccine developer, announced on Thursday that it received a $600,000 small business innovation research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The grant will support a TechnoVax program to develop a universal influenza vaccine using its proprietary virus-like particle technology. The company's VLP technology allows for the creation of vaccines against dangerous viruses that are highly immunogenic and contain no infectious material.

"We greatly appreciate this NIAID grant and this funding will accelerate the development of this much needed vaccine," Jose Galarza, the CEO of TechnoVax, said. "This award recognizes not only the innovative research carried-out at TechnoVax but also emphasizes the importance of developing a flu vaccine that can protect against multiple virus strains including pandemic ones and whose protective effect could last for several years: effectively bringing us closer to the development of a truly 'universal' flu vaccine."

Technovax uses a cell-based system for developing and producing vaccines which reduces by more than half the time needed in the traditional egg-based system. The company will attempt to re-engineer conserved epitopes displayed on VLPs to allow for the neutralization of various strains of influenza following immunization. If the program is successful, the resulting vaccines will overcome antigenic variations and enable sustainable protection against circulating and emerging influenza viruses.

Current flu vaccines protect only against circulating strains and must be updated annually. A universal flu vaccine could protect against more flu strains and for several years at a time.