VHFC partner, Zalgen Labs LLC (Zalgen), a biotechnology and diagnostics company focused on high-impact, neglected infectious diseases including Lassa fever (LF), today announced that The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Zalgen a Phase I grant to advance new laboratory tests critical for supporting Lassa fever vaccine research. The two-year grant 1R43AI138836-01 funds the project titled Glycoprotein Immunoassay to Measure Protective Response to Lassa Vaccine, to be conducted at the Zalgen advanced diagnostic product development center in Aurora, Colo.
Zalgen is a member of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) and the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium (VIC) working on advanced alternatives to treat hemorrhagic fever infections. Collaborating with Zalgen on the new project will be consortium members Tulane University (Tulane), Scripps Research and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB).
Lassa fever is a dangerous, often fatal disease common to much of West Africa with children and pregnant women being the highest risk groups; early stages of the disease are difficult to distinguish from other diseases. Lassa fever is spread by contact with infected rodents and is estimated to infect 300,000 to 500,000 people per year across the region, with at least 5,000 deaths annually. The illness is characterized by bleeding and coagulation abnormalities, with mortality rates reported exceeding 25 percent and reaching 50 percent during epidemics.
“The award makes possible advancement of new diagnostic tests necessary in the development of life-altering vaccines and therapies to address this significant healthcare problem in West Africa,” said Matthew Boisen, Ph.D., Zalgen’s Director of Diagnostic Development who will serve as principal investigator for the project. “We will continue to accelerate further development of these and other products so that promising treatments can be introduced into clinics in West Africa and deployed as deterrents against the use of Lassa virus as a bioweapon.”
The current grant represents the newest funding award for Zalgen, which has previously received financial support from the NIH for diagnostics, immunotherapeutics, and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. Arevirumab-3™, Zalgen’s lead immunotherapeutic candidate for Lassa fever, has demonstrated 100% protection in non-human primates (NHP) infected with Lassa fever virus.
About Zalgen Labs
Zalgen Labs is a biotechnology and diagnostics company with headquarters in Germantown, Md., and an advanced diagnostic product development center in Aurora, Colo. The company specializes in the design and production of superior biological molecules critical for the development and commercialization of immunotherapeutics, novel vaccines, and reliable, rapid and affordable diagnostic platforms targeting neglected and underrepresented human infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.zalgenlabs.com.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium was established in 2014 to develop life-saving antibody therapeutics against some of the world’s deadliest viruses. The VIC represents a field-wide collaboration in which leading laboratories around the world have united to understand what features lead to antibody-mediated protection against these viruses and how we can more rapidly discover ideal treatments. This collaborative effort allows each laboratory to contribute their strengths in analytical techniques towards the identification, characterization, and validation of antibodies against the Filoviridae and Arenaviridae families. From isolating novel antibodies and testing them in vivo, to the structural analysis of the molecular mechanisms of neutralization, VIC scientists contribute unique insights towards the overall characterization of a broad pool of antibodies. The consortium is funded through a National Institute of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers for Excellence in Translational Research program grant. For more information, visit www.vhfimmunotherapy.org.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium was established in 2010 as a result of several multi-year grants and contracts awarded to Tulane University by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support Tulane’s ongoing efforts to treat and prevent Lassa fever.
Zalgen Company Contact
Luis M. Branco, Ph.D. – Managing Director and Co-Founder
Phone (504) 444-7047