The United States will pay the Danish biotechnology firm Bavarian Nordic as much as $40 million to adopt its smallpox vaccine so that it can be freeze-dried.
The contract, which will fund preclinical and clinical studies on efforts to create a freeze-dried version of Bavarian Nordic’s Imvamune vaccine, will also be used to validate the new freeze-dried manufacturing process.
Freeze-dried vaccines can potentially be kept longer than those in a liquid form that must be frozen for storage, Bavarian Nordic said. The freeze-drying process also allows for the government to overcome the challenges it faces from cold-chain logistics and storage.
The freeze-drying development activities will be researched in tandem with licensure activities for the current liquid form of Imvamune.
While smallpox is no longer found in the world, it has been identified as a top bioterrorism threat.
Thirty-three percent of the funding will go to fund the first year of the project with an option of additional funding if certain pre-determined technical milestones are met.
“We are excited about receiving yet another contract from the US Government in support for the development of an advanced freeze-dried version of our Imvamune smallpox vaccine,” Anders Hedegaard, president and CEO of Bavarian Nordic, said. “It clearly demonstrates the continued commitment from the U.S. government to support the development of advanced medical countermeasures and it strengthens our confidence that the option to procure up to an additional 60 million doses of Imvamune under the ongoing RFP-3 contract will be exercised.”