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Collaborators and Partners

To develop new technologies for medical prevention and treatment often requires work by multiple investigators from different areas of science and engineering. In addition, the effective translation of a promising discovery into a practical vaccine or drug usually requires the hand off from the research organization to a company that can take the new therapy through the necessary steps of manufacturing and human testing in order to reach the clinic. For most of its vaccine and drug candidates, VIC has active collaborators or company partners to assist with important tasks in development. We summarize these below.

21st Century Biochemicals (Marlborough, MA)

21st Century Biochemicals makes customized peptides for industry and academic clients. They are one of the few peptide companies that retain manufacturing facilities in the United States. The company has partnered with VIC on a number of accelerated vaccine development projects where peptides have been used as part of the vaccine or as a key step in vaccine response testing, including the current Q-VaxCelerate project.

Beckman Laser Institute, University of California at Irvine (Irvine, California)

The Beckman Laser Institute is a multi-disciplinary center for research, teaching, clinical medicine, and technology transfer located on the campus of the University of California, Irvine. The BLI faculty reflect the disciplinary range with individuals who have appointments in the Departments of Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pulmonology, Dermatology, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering; and training in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Mathematics. The Institute has an associate Laser Surgery Clinic that sees over 4,000 patients each year and is conducting over 20 clinical trials. BLI plays an active role in the development of new technologies, which have led to four spin off companies to date. Technologies and discoveries have had a major impact on cutaneous disease and treatment, cellular micromanipulation, intraluminal endoscopic imaging, functional imaging of cells and thick tissues, targeted phototherapies, and multi-modality imaging. VIC works with BLI faculty Dr. Elliot Botvinick, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Kristin Kelly, Clinical Professor of Dermatology on projects related to the laser vaccine adjuvant.

Bowen Lab/ CSU (Fort Collins, CO)

The Rocky Mountain Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research has been established as part of a national network of research centers to conduct research on important emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. An important part of the RMRCE is the animal core, directed by Dr. Richard Bowen. The animal core allows investigators to study the effect of very dangerous pathogens and the impact of vaccines and therapies on animals in high-containment settings that are not typically found in research universities and hospitals. Dr. Bowen’s group assists the Q-VaxCelerate team with research on the effect of its vaccines on rodents.

Bucala Lab/ Yale (New Haven, Connecticut)

Dr. Bucala is a Professor of Medicine at Yale University in Rheumatology. His laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which host immunity converts from a protective response to one producing disease. It focuses significant attention on the role of host cytokine, MIF, which the laboratory first cloned in 1993, in the development of the inflammatory complications of different infections and autoimmune diseases. These studies of MIF encompass structure-function, immunological, and pharmacologic targeting studies. The laboratory is also pursuing the genetic epidemiology of MIF. A separate line of inquiry is directed at the fibrocyte, which is a novel circulating leukocyte that contributes to the immunopathogenesis of fibrosing disorders.

Center for Vaccines and Immunology, University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)

The goal of the newly-established Center for Vaccines and Immunology is to better understand the fundamental science of vaccines and immune responses. The team, led by Dr. Ted Ross, will focus on the conduct of basic science that will help us understand the immunology of infectious disease and how vaccines work in different populations depending on their age, gender or race, as well as the role of genetics and why people react differently to vaccine formulations. The Center is conducting research into new vaccines for influenza, chikungunya, dengue and respiratory synctitial virus and studying new adjuvants especially for antiviral vaccines. The Ross lab is collaborating with VIC around the testing of the laser vaccine adjuvant in other vaccines.

EpiVax Corporation (Providence, Rhode Island)

EpiVax is a small biotechnology company dedicated to the application of immunoinformatics to the design of vaccines and therapeutics. The company utilizes its iVax suite of immunoinformatics tools for the design optimized T cell epitopes for vaccines and immunotherapies and to design T cell epitopes that promote tolerance (Tregitopes). EpiVax is collaborating company with Translational Immunology Research and Accelerated [Vaccine] Development program based within the University of Rhode Island. EpiVax brings its expertise and informatics capabilities to design of a new Q fever vaccine as part of the VIC Q-VaxCelerate program.

InnatOss Laboratories (Oss, Netherlands)

InnatOss is an emerging biotechnology company that is developing novel immunology-based diagnostics for infectious diseases with a focus on chronic infectious diseases. The company was originally formed around technologies to produce diagnostics for addressing the Q fever epidemic centered in southwest Netherlands in 2009-2011. More recently the company has begun to produce a diagnostic system for Lyme disease. InnatOss is applying its expertise in cellular assays to conduct testing of in vitro responses to vaccine epitopes as part of the Q-VaxCelerate project.

Kovacs Lab/ NIH (Bethesda, MD)

The primary focus of the Laboratory is to further the development of conjugate vaccines from synthetic and bacterial carbohydrate antigens. Ultimately, its goal is to develop reliable protocols for preparation of neoglycoconjugates that could become substitutes for traditional vaccines based on whole-cell killed or attenuated bacteria. Because there is virtually an infinite number of choice of architectonic details that a synthetic neoglycoconjugate can incorporate, part of the work of the Laboratory involves studies of the effects of variables such as size of the carbohydrate antigen, type of linker, linking chemistry, type of carrier, etc., upon immunogenicity and protective capacity. In addition to obtaining potent immunogens, we expect our studies to result in findings of general utility in synthetic vaccine preparation. The current objective of its work is development of synthetic vaccines for cholera and anthrax. Dr. Paul Kovacs, the Chief of the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry, is one of the inventors of the OSP-containing conjugate cholera vaccine and is an active collaborator with Ed Ryan on its development.

Lakey Lab/ UCI (Irvine, California)

Dr. Lakey’s laboratory is focused on cell and tissue transplantation with a specific concentration in the transplantation of pancreatic islet cells for those people with insulin dependent diabetes (type I). The goal of the lab is to develop a clinical islet transplant program at the University of California, Irvine. Additionally, there is an active research program investigating aspects of islet isolation including enzymatic means of tissue dissociation, examining cell tissue energetics and novel methods of validating islet yield and function. To address the key issue of tissue rejection and the need for chronic anti-rejection drugs, the laboratory is working with an industrial partner on developing a clinical islet encapsulation program using biocompatible alginate. Dr. Lakey’s laboratory is providing characterization of islet microbeads produced under the JDRF-funded immunomoisolated islet microbead project.

Papas Lab/ UAZ (Tucson, Arizona)

Dr. Klearchos Papas’ laboratory focuses on issues related the properties of insulin-secreting tissue and their relationship to viability and function. Much of the team’s research is in the context of therapeutic islet transplantation. He has developed expertise in and assays for the real-time, objective assessment of islet quality prior to transplantation. His group has also developed tools for the real time non-invasive assessment of pancreases and other organs during preservation, and is actively involved in research for improvements in organ preservation technology aiming at extending the allowable time window from procurement to transplantation and the utilization of organs from expanded criteria donors without compromising clinical outcomes. Dr. Papas collaborates on the immunomodulated islet therapy project funded by JDRF, where his team performs a series of tests on the changes in islet viability after shipping and encapsulation.

Qadri Lab/ icddr,b (Dakha, Bangladesh)

The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh is dedicated to saving lives through research and treatment, ranging from improving neonatal survival to HIV/AIDS. In collaboration with academic and research institutions throughout the world, icddr,b conducts research, training and extension activities, as well as program-based activities, to develop and share knowledge for global lifesaving solutions. The Centre is truly interdisciplinary in its approach with a staff that includes public health scientists, laboratory scientists, clinicians, nutritionists, epidemiologists, demographers, social and behavioural scientists, IT professionals, experts in emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and vaccine sciences. The Centre is an active collaborator in the development of the new OSP-containing conjugate cholera vaccine.

Schulze Diabetes Institute (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

The sole mission of the Schulze Diabetes Institute is to accelerate the availability and affordability of islet transplantation as a means of treating type 1 diabetes, while continually improving upon its success. It developed the world’s first safe, effective and minimally invasive cure using islet transplantation in 1974. The institute includes more than 30 professionals and is led by internationally renowned transplant surgeons Dr. David Sutherland and world expert on islet cell transplantation Dr. Bernhard Hering. The Institute is a leader in Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium clinical trials, having completed 9 such clinical trials. They are one of only 9 facilities in the United States selected by the NIH to conduct Phase III clinical trials. The Schulze Diabetes Institute collaborates with VIC on its JDRF-funded immunoisolated islet microbead project.

SemiNex Corporation (Peabody, Massachusetts)

SemiNex Corporation manufactures high power, infrared laser diodes for military, industrial, cosmetic and medical applications. SemiNex’s unique approach to laser manufacturing produces laser diodes with higher power and electrical efficiency than traditional laser technology. SemiNex produces a wide range of diode products with power outputs between 3 and 25 Watts (multimode) and up to 600 mW single mode. In addition to its standard offerings, the company offers customized products with power and wavelength parameters that meet customer specifications. SemiNex has developed customized laser devices for VIC as part of its research on laser vaccine adjuvants.

U Groningen (Groningen, Netherlands)

The de Vos laboratory is focused on the field of immunoendocrinology with a concentration in the immunologic responses to therapeutic islet transplant, including those using polymer-based encapsulation technologies. The Laboratory has developed a number of approaches to evaluating impurities within polymers that can trigger innate immune responses that lead to damage of implanted islets and long-term loss of function for such implants. The laboratory has conducted these types of evaluations on polymers being used by VIC as part of the JDRF immunomoisolated islet microbead study.

UM Preclinical Research Center (St. Paul, Minnesota)

The Preclinical Research Center at the University of Minnesota provides support for high-quality, rigorous studies in small and large animal models, with a specific expertise in large animal islet transplantation studies. The team has the capability of conducting studies under cGLP standards required for submission of data as part of IND filings with the FDA. The Center is led by Dr. Melanie Graham, who provides expertise to VIC in the design and conduct of preclinical studies of the immunoisolated islet microbeads.

Vann Lab/ FDA (Bethesda, MD)

The Laboratory of Bacterial Polysaccharides investigates the biochemistry, biology, chemistry, and immunology of virulence factors of encapsulated bacteria. These factors include capsular polysaccharides, lipopolysaccharides, and outer membrane proteins. These basic research fields are related to the regulatory activities of the Laboratory of Bacterial Polysaccharides, which include review and approval of BLA and IND submissions related to polysaccharide and polysaccharide conjugate vaccines in addition to non-capsular immunogens of encapsulated pathogens. The Chief of the Laboratory, Dr. Willie F. Vann, is one of the inventors of the OSP-containing conjugated cholera vaccine and has been an ongoing collaborator to Dr. Edward Ryan on this vaccine candidate.

ViCapsys, Inc. (Athens, Georgia)

ViCapsys is an emerging biotechnology company formed to apply the fugetactic potential of recombinant CXCL12 to the regenerative medicine space. The company has been established in the University of Georgia incubator. It leverages key resources across the university to develop and advance new therapeutic candidates for type 1 diabetes. The company is a collaborator with VIC on the immunoisolated islet microbeads.