Pfenex wins NIAID contract for needle-free anthrax vaccine

Pfenex, a San Diego-based protein expression company, won a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases contract this week to support the development of its needle-free anthrax vaccine.

The contract is worth an initial $2.18 million for the development of a dry formulation of the Pfenex-rPA, a recombinant protective antigen anthrax vaccine, which would be stable for long-term storage. Under the terms of the contract, Pfenex could receive up to $22.9 million in funding if all options are exercised, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reports.

"Pfenex is pleased to be awarded this contract from NIAID to progress an additional development path for our anthrax vaccine program," Bertrand C. Liang, Pfenex's CEO, said, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. "We believe this important countermeasure effort can provide a solution to the U.S. government quest to stockpile sufficient vaccine doses to rapidly respond to an anthrax biothreat. A recombinant solution for the production of this strategically relevant product has been sought for a number of years, and with continued government support and partnership we are confident Pfenex can deliver that solution."

Pfenex already developed an rPA construct under an existing Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority contract. BARDA extended the contract in May to further develop the production strain.