The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded an $8.1m biodefense grant to the University of Washington (UW), University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, US, and Kineta.
The funding is intended to advance the development of antiviral therapeutics for treating diseases such as Ebola, plague, Japanese encephalitis and other lethal pathogens.
Under the project, UW researchers will provide bioinformatics and system biology genomics analysis and Kineta will lead drug optimisation and in vivo pharmacology work, while UTMB professors will oversee research on biosafety level 4 viral agents.
The project utilises discoveries from ongoing collaborations between Kineta and UW to develop new antiviral drugs and vaccine boosters called adjuvants.
UW immunology professor and principal investigator of the grant Michael Gale said the award enables them to advance further work with high priority viruses.
"By utilising an innate immune pathway we hope to develop better drugs that won't be out-smarted by viral mutation," Gale added.
Dr. Thomas Geisbert of the UTMB and Galveston National Lab (GNL) said the primary mission of the GNL is to engage their unique resources in translating research ideas into products aimed at combating emerging infectious diseases.
"This collaboration between Kineta, the University of Washington and the GNL leverages expertise and resources from academia and industry to promote the advancement of countermeasures against Ebola and Nipah viruses in particular, two high priority public health and biodefense threat agents," Geisbert added.
The grant will also allow Kineta to progress two small molecule drug candidates into human clinical trials.
Kineta is a Seattle-based privately held biotechnology company engaged in the clinical advancement of immunotherapeutic drug candidates for autoimmune and viral diseases.
Image: The Galveston National Laboratory, located at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, US. Photo courtesy of: Nsaum75.