Ichor receives funding to fight Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus

The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency has provided Ichor Medical Systems of San Diego with a $2.2 million contract to fund Phase I human clinical testing of a DNA vaccine candidate for Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus.

VEEV is listed as a Category B agent by the Centers for Disease Control. It is considered an important biodefense risk because of its stability when aerosolized as well as because of its ability to rapidly incapacitate infected individuals.

“The Ichor/USAMRIID program is aligned with DTRA’s mission of developing biological countermeasures and will address a specific unmet medical need for a safe and effective VEEV vaccine,” Dr. Connie Schmaljohn, a senior research scientist at USAMRIID, said.

Ichor, in collaboration with U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases researchers and with funding from another DTRA contract, has identified a DNA-based vaccine candidate for VEEV.

When delivered by Ichor's TriGrid electroportation system, the VEEV vaccine candidate has demonstrated compelling safety and efficacy characteristics in nonhuman primates, including a rapid induction of virus-neutralizing antibody responses that conferred protection from viral challenge.

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with USAMRIID in developing this and other biodefense vaccines," Bob Bernard, Ichor's CEO, said. "We anticipate the resulting human data will position the TriGrid as a vaccine delivery platform for use in a number of biodefense applications as well as other infectious disease indications.”