The US Department of Defense (DoD) expects the $15m (€12m) ‘cost-plus-incentive-fee contract’ to be completed in 2020. By then Maryland, US-based Paragon Bioservices should have performed vaccine development and GMP (good manufacturing practice) production of the treatment.
“It doesn't get any better than this for a CMO (contract manufacturing organisation)”, Marco Chacon, CEO of Paragon Bioservices said. To perform the work Paragon Bioservices will combine its virus-like particle (VLP) production and purification experience with expertise at Harrisvaccines and academia.
Paragon Bioservices competed against three other bids to win the contract. During the first phase of the deal Paragon Bioservices is due to receive $15m and this could more than double if optional contract line item numbers are exercised.
The contract focuses on the Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) replicon particle trivalent filovirus vaccine. Development of the vaccine will give the DoD a tool to fight filoviruses, a potential agent of bioterrorism with a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.
Awarding the contract to Paragon Bioservices is part of a longstanding effort at the DoD to protect the US against filoviruses. In 2005 the DoD awarded Apath $70,000 for filovirus drug discovery using novel combinations of approved compounds and has continued to drive vaccine development.
Paragon Bioservices is already working with filovirus vaccine candidates under another deal with the DoD. Having inked the deal in 2010 Paragon Bioservices has worked on process development and scale-up production of filovirus vaccine candidates with efficacy against Ebola and Marburg viruses.
In a document released in 2010 the Chemical Biological Medical Systems-Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program, which is leading the filovirus project, said it hopes to have a product ready by fiscal 2024.