Pulmatrix awarded contract for inhaled vaccine

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded clinical stage biotechnology company Pulmatrix $5.7 million to continue preclinical development of an inhaled cationic airway lining modulator that will be used to treat airborne biothreats like tularemia, influenza and anthrax.

The goal of the project is to create drug/device combinations that are deployable in the field for civilians and military personnel. The money will be used to aid the development and preclinical studies with the major candidates for the iCALM system, Gen Eng News reports.

“The milestones of this work are focuses on demonstrating the efficacy of iCALM in making multiple viral pathogens less infectious to the warfighter and civilians,” Robert Clarke, vice president of research at Pulmatrix, said, according to Gen Eng News. “The outcome will demonstrate two utilities of the technology, pathogen independence and the ability to disrupt the induction of infection.”

The iCALM system's pathogen-independent approach uses the natural defenses of the body to treat and prevent infectious connected to progressive or chronic respiratory diseases, Gen Eng reports. The system activates endogenous proteins in the airway lining fluid that enhance barrier functions in the lungs, reducing pathogen penetration. It also stimulates host defense mechanisms in the lungs to enhance clearance of pathogens, reduce airway inflammation and prevent infection.

Pulmatrix believes that these therapies may have use against conditions such as cystic fibrosis, rhinovirus, influenza, RSV and many others. They had previously received a $2.2 million grand by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to work on therapeutics for pandemic and seasonal influenza.