DoD funds creation of rapid vaccine production

The biotechnology firm Medicago USA Inc., recently announced that it will be the recipient of a $21 million grant from the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to rapidly produce vaccines int he event of an environmental or biological threat.

Medicago is known for producing vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and virus-like particles. The firm plans to use the grant to develop a 90,000 square-foot facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, capable of making Medicago’s plant-based influenza vaccines, according to FinancialWire.

The DARPA funded project is part of an effort to create an influenza vaccine production base in the United States. The Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals program, of which this project is a part, seeks to identify new ways to produce large amounts of vaccine protein in less than three months in the case of an emerging biological threat. The facility, when finished, will have the capacity to produce 10 million doses a month of the influenza vaccine.

In total, the project is receiving $42 million in funding, with Medicago paying $7.5 million of the costs and Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. funding the remaining $13.5 million, FinancialWire reports.

"We are thrilled to be awarded such significant funding from DARPA for the development of a state-of-the-art plant-based VLP vaccine capability in the USA as it further validates the growing and strategic interest in our rapid and cost-effective vaccine technology," Andy Sheldon, president and CEO of Medicago said of the grant, according to Medicago’s Web site.