CU Center For Pharmaceutical Biotechnology To Assist In Developing Botulism Vaccine

Published: Sept. 9, 2003

The Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Colorado is part of an industry-university research team selected to fast-track development of a botulism vaccine for use against bioterrorism.

The team, led by DynPort Vaccine Co. of El Segundo, Calif., has received an $11 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a safe and effective vaccine within five years that will protect against all known forms of botulinum, a bacterium commonly found in soil that can contaminate food.

"Botulinum neurotoxin is generally recognized as the deadliest naturally occurring substance known and has been identified as a potential bioweapon," said DVC President Terry Irgens. "There is an urgent need for a safe, efficacious vaccine that will protect against all seven known serotypes of the neurotoxin."

The award funds development of two botulinum vaccines, one of which will be available within two years and will protect against five of the seven serotypes.

The Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, a joint enterprise between CU-Boulder and the CU Health Sciences Center, will receive $1 million of the grant to develop a stable, deliverable vaccine that can actually be used in a clinical setting. The stabilization of therapeutic proteins to achieve a clinically acceptable shelf life has been a long-term focus of the center.

"The most potent drug is worthless, and sometimes even dangerous, to the patient if it cannot be maintained in a stable form from the time that it is produced, through shipping, storage and, ultimately, delivery to the patient," said Ted Randolph, CU-Boulder professor of chemical and biological engineering. Randolph will work with John Carpenter, associate professor at the CU School of Pharmacy, on the project.

Other partners in the grant are the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, HTD Biosystems in Hercules, Calif., and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.