Harrisvaccines has been awarded a $1.114 million contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate to develop an RNA Particle vaccine to potentially protect the U.S. from foot-and-mouth disease.
Harrisvaccines will use the contract for research and development over the next 34 months. The company’s RP platform technology allows for the vaccine to be manufactured without handling the infectious virus; only a gene sequence from the virus is needed to prepare the vaccine. This characteristic allows the RP-based vaccine to be produced in Harrisvaccines’ U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed production facility in Ames, Iowa. Production of foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccines using traditional methods in the U.S. is not allowed due to the significant risk of releasing the virus into disease-free U.S. during production.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to use our RNA Particle vaccine technology in a project this significant to U.S. agriculture,” said Dr. Kurt Kamrud, vice president of research and chief scientific officer for Harrisvaccines. “Our rapid response technology allows us to produce large amounts of vaccine quickly. And, because only a portion of the FMDV genetic information is required to generate a vaccine, the RP-based approach will allow for the differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals when used with current and next generation FMD serology-based diagnostic assays, which is very important in the event of an outbreak.”