AAHI Announces $3M Award to Develop an Intranasal Pan-Viral Countermeasure against Respiratory Viruses

The Access to Advanced Health Institute (AAHI) announced today that it has been awarded up to $3M through the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Other Transaction Authority (OTA) to pursue a prototype project as part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Project Panacea and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense’s (JPEO-CBRND) Joint Project Manager for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Medical (JPM CBRN Medical) Vaccine Acceleration by Modular Progression (VAMP) program. AAHI will be working with the DIU and JPM CBRN Medical to develop a prototype nasal spray using AAHI’s novel formulation of two adjuvants, substances that enhance immune responses. AAHI’s adjuvant formulation platform enables development of temperature-stable products that can be easily distributed and stored to support the health and safety of warfighters.  

Because of unique military conditions, global presence, and need to operate in contested environments, military personnel need medical treatments with multiple benefits and are useful against a broad range of challenges such as newly emerging, highly transmissible, and/or rapidly mutating respiratory viruses. Effective medical countermeasures should be protective against a broad variety of viral threats, self-administrable for efficient uptake, and temperature stable to survive stringent military logistics. AAHI will use its adjuvant formulation platform to develop a prototype product that promises to shorten timelines for emergency response to and mitigate impacts from biological threats.

AAHI’s collaboration with the DoD will build on AAHI’s over two decades of formulation expertise and broad portfolio of adjuvant formulations. This prototype product will rely on AAHI’s formulations of two different adjuvants, SLA and 3M-052, each of which stimulates a Toll-like receptor (TLR) immune pathway, to stimulate trained immunity and provide non-specific protection against the threat of respiratory infection. AAHI’s formulations of novel synthetic TLR4 agonists (known as “GLA” and “SLA”) have been shown in preclinical vaccinations to protect against influenza and other infectious diseases. AAHI’s formulations of 3M’s novel 3M-052 compound, a TLR7/8 agonist, likewise have demonstrated efficacy against influenza and COVID-19, as well as other infectious diseases. AAHI scientists will leverage their development and optimization of a similar intranasal multiple-agonist formulation that in preclinical vaccinations has induced simultaneous mucosal and systemic immune responses against influenza, COVID-19, and amebiasis (supported by the National Institute of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (#HHSN272201800025C)). 

“This winter we have seen our hospitals and clinics overwhelmed with patients suffering from a broad range of respiratory viruses,” said Dr. Corey Casper, Chief Executive Officer at AAHI and Principal Investigator for the award. “A nasal spray that is easy to self-administer, temperature stable, and broadly protective against multiple respiratory viruses could greatly reduce the burden of pandemic and endemic viruses around the globe.”

The 18-month project is focused on development of a prototype small-molecule nasal spray as prophylaxis for a variety of respiratory diseases, including novel viruses and newly emerging variants of existing viruses AAHI scientists will test the nasal spray against pandemic influenza and Nipah virus in preclinical studies; if successful, the activities of the award will allow for the rapid initiation of Phase 1 clinical trials in humans. A temperature-stable and broadly protective nasal spray could be rapidly deployed better to protect warfighters, and ultimately civilians, against dangerous viral pathogens.

The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Government.

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AAHI is a nonprofit biotech research institute located in Seattle, Washington that combines the high-quality science of an academic research organization with the product-development capabilities of a biotech company to help combat some of the world’s deadliest diseases, including COVID-19, cancer, fungal and parasitic infections, and other non-communicable diseases. For nearly three decades, AAHI, previously known as the Infectious Disease Research Institute, has focused on creating immune-enhancing technologies that improve the body’s natural response to disease. Through collaborations AAHI brings innovation from the lab to the clinic to the people, furthering AAHI’s mission to bring together the best experts, technologies, and platforms to create accessible, high-quality products, and solutions. AAHI is working to build a world in which every person has access to tools that harness their immune system and allow them to live a healthy life free of illness and disease. For more information, go to AAHI.org or follow us on LinkedIn.

Casey Benadof
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