Fraunhofer awarded grant to fight anthrax and plague

Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology has received a $5.3 million contract to create a vaccine to protect against both anthrax and plague.

The contract, provided by the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, aims at finding a flexible technology to quickly produce a large amount of vaccine for biological agents in the event of a bioterror attack. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency is tasked with protecting the nation from weapons of mass destruction.

Fraunhofer has spent approximately four years working on anthrax and plague vaccines with the aid of government grants. The company plans on demonstrating safety in efficacy in animal testing for a one-shot vaccine with the aid of the new contract.

"We're in a range where we have some solid deliverables that we have to make sure we deliver at the end of the contract," Vidadi Yusibov, Fraunhofer's executive director, told

Fraunhofer's technology allows it to rapidly produce vaccines by growing target proteins in tobacco plants. The company, which opened a new 14,000-square-foot pilot-scale production facility recently, is looking to produce its anthrax and plague vaccines separately and then combine them into a single formulation.

The company plans on adding to its almost 100 employees to aid in the areas of process development and clinical development as its experimental vaccines are moved into production and clinical testing.