VIRAPUR Collaborates With DARPA Team on Rapid-Turnaround Treatments for Infectious Agents

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Biotech firm VIRAPUR received a research subaward in a $5.6 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army Research Office (ARO) awarded to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The multinational project focuses on developing countermeasures for natural and intentional exposure to disease pathogens.

Biotech firm VIRAPUR received a research subaward in a $5.6 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army Research Office (ARO) awarded to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The grant was awarded to Dana-Farber principal investigator Wayne Marasco, M.D., Ph.D., and seven international research teams from commercial and academic institutions for a highly innovative proposal to counter any pathogen and create a disease specific treatment within seven days of disease presentation.

VIRAPUR’s expertise in growing, purifying and testing human pathogens and phage was key in obtaining this award.

Since the mid-1990s, DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office has pioneered advances across the full spectrum of bio-warfare defense needs, including the development of advanced diagnostics and medical therapies that are active against an entire range of infectious agents.

Newly emerging and re-emerging diseases as well as bio-engineered pathogens challenge the diagnostic and treatment protocols currently available.

“In the past, medical responses to large-scale disease outbreaks have been very slow,” said Marasco. “Often it has taken many months to years to research and create medicines or vaccines, time barriers that often result in loss of life. This program gives us an opportunity to very rapidly provide ways to prevent infection and extend survival until long time solutions are available.” The grant will address the rapid development of targeted therapeutics by selecting broadly neutralizing phage antibodies. Our approach uniquely directs phage antibodies as therapeutic treatment.

VIRAPUR will contribute to the effort by developing a rapid production and purification process for therapeutic phage, including subsequent biological characterization of the purified phage therapeutic. In addition to VIRAPUR and Dana-Farber, the other institutions and organizations that comprise the research team are Columbia University, New York; Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, NM; Sanofi Pasteur VaxDesign Campus, Orlando, FL; University of Alberta, Canada; and Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia; with Latham BioPharm Group, Maynard, MA as the project’s system integrator.

About VIRAPUR
VIRAPUR (http://www.virapur.com ) is a privately held biotech in San Diego. VIRAPUR grows, purifies and tests virus and phage preparations for pharmaceutical, diagnostic and academic institutions. VIRAPUR recently added Biosafety Level 3 laboratories for the purpose of assisting companies with biological agents requiring higher levels of containment. Marylou G. Gibson, Ph.D., a VIRAPUR founder, is leading the effort in San Diego.

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Marylou Gibson
VIRAPUR
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