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Artificial Immune Function Technology Transitions for Assessing Vaccine and Biothreats Efficacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2010
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FORT BELVOIR, Alexandria, VA – The recent announcement of the acquisition of VaxDesign by Sanofi Pasteur highlights the success the Modular IMmune In-vitro Construct (MIMIC)® technology has achieved while under a contract with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Chemical/Biological Technologies Directorate Medical S&T Division (CBM). The MIMIC® technology combines immunology and engineering into a surrogate human immune system, enabling earlier and better assessment of vaccine candidates and other medical countermeasures. DTRA-CBM advanced the functionality of the MIMIC® to yield an in vitro tool capable of predicting human immune response to specific bio-threat agents and vaccine candidates in development within DoD.

VaxDesign, a privately held biotechnology company based in Orlando, Fla., initially demonstrated proof of concept of MIMIC® under a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which subsequently transitioned to DTRA in 2008.

“MIMIC® is a great example of how we can utilize innovative ideas to better prepare for emerging biological threats,” said Dr. Alan S. Rudolph, director of DTRA’s Chemical and Biological Technologies directorate, which functions as the Joint Science and Technology Office (JSTO) of the Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program. “Creating new ways to mimic the human immune system in the laboratory and to evaluate vaccine efficacy before clinical testing are important steps to accelerating our development of needed medical countermeasures. It’s an example of how we can mature innovative research and development and transition technology to commercial development. The success of the MIMIC® supports our future strategy for exploiting novel ex vivo evaluation platforms that mimic human function for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.”

DTRA safeguards America’s interests from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives) by controlling and reducing the threat to the United States and its allies, and providing quality tools and services for the warfighter. This Department of Defense combat support agency is located at Fort Belvoir, Va., and operates field offices worldwide.

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