A team of scientists at Colorado State University was awarded a base contract worth $3.1 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue development of a coronavirus vaccine candidate known as SolaVAX™.
The funding comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of NIH, and includes an additional $15.5 million over five years if all options are implemented. The additional funding will support pre-clinical research and a move to Phase I human clinical trials to test the safety and immune response of the vaccine.
SolaVAX repurposes a commercial platform that is currently used to inactivate pathogens in blood transfusions. The strategy uses UV light and riboflavin to create an inactivated virus, which stimulates a person’s immune system to fight the virus. The research team aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of the SolaVAX process to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to be used in a vaccine against the disease.
The NIAID contract will support research at CSU’s Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) facility, where scientists will work to produce strains of the coronavirus to be used in SolaVAX.
This vaccine has already been successfully tested in a pre-clinical testing feasibility program at CSU, according to Ray Goodrich, principal investigator for the project and executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center at CSU.
Alan Rudolph, CSU’s vice president for research, said this award underscores the university’s prominence in emerging infectious disease research and the rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our researchers moved swiftly to provide the state, the nation and the world with a range of potential solutions and medical countermeasures to the virus,” he said.