$24.5 million to develop vaccines and therapies for Nipah and Hendra viruses

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF), along with Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), Profectus Biosciences, Inc., the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc., and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) have been awarded up to $24.5 million to advance treatments for two lethal henipaviruses. The award was made to Dr. Christopher Broder, professor, and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at USU. The award is a collaborative Center of Excellence for Translational Research (CETR) grant supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The grant funds will be distributed over five years to further the development of countermeasures used for the prevention and treatment of Nipah and Hendra infections in humans. Recently, Nipah was selected by the World Health Organization as an epidemic threat needing urgent research and development action. The deadly virus was included in the WHO R&D Blueprint list of priority pathogens with epidemic potential and are considered agents with the highest risk of being deliberately misused by bioterrorists to cause mass casualties and produce devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure, and public confidence.

A major focus of the CETR will be on preclinical products that have shown an ability to provide complete pre- and post-exposure protection of animals against Nipah and Hendra infection. There are currently no vaccines or treatments approved for human use against Nipah and Hendra, and infection causes high mortality rates in people that range between 50 and 100 percent.

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