Leidos receives NIH contract to test adjuvant for anthrax vaccine

Leidos, Inc., a national health, security and engineering solutions company, announced on Monday it received a development contract to improve the efficacy of vaccine candidates meant to prevent West Nile virus disease and anthrax.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded Leidos with the prime vaccine adjuvant development contract to enhance the efficacy of recombinant anthrax and WNV vaccines. Adjuvants are agents that improve the body's immune response.

Leidos, formerly named Science Applications International Corporation, will use the contract to assemble a high-quality team to develop and optimize the lead vaccine adjuvant candidate. The Leidos team consists of researchers from Colorado State University, the IIT Research Institute, Inc., Molecular Diagnostics Services, Duke University, Pfenex, Inc., the Hawaii Biotech Institute and the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

"We are pleased to begin this important work in vaccine development," Steve Comber, the group president of Leidos Health, said. "This program has the potential to make vaccine adjuvant candidates more effective, and by doing so, may help protect the public against biological agents that have a severe impact on human health or might be used in acts of bioterrorism."

As part of the contract, the Leidos team will prepare and assess formulations of the lead adjuvant compound and either a WNV surface protein or a recombinant protective antigen from anthrax-causing Bacillus anthracis. The contract also includes a future option to test the adjuvant in a potential HIV vaccine.

The NIAID contract contains a one-year period of performance valued at $2.2 million, followed by four option years, for a total contract value of approximately $12.4 million, if all the contract's options are exercised.

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