NanoBio, Merck to Collaborate on Gates-Funded RSV Vaccine

The acronym RSV is one that often inspires dread in the hearts of parents—it stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and it hospitalizes 75,000 to 125,000 children under the age of one each year, infecting almost all children by the age of two. RSV can also have a life-threatening impact on the elderly.

There is a successful treatment against RSV made by AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit, but there is no marketed vaccine to protect against RSV infections in the first place. That may soon change as Ann Arbor, MI-based NanoBio announced yesterday that it will partner with pharmaceutical giant Merck in a preclinical collaboration in the development of an RSV vaccine that’s delivered as a nasal spray. About a year ago, the vaccine program secured a $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This is a very exciting project for the company,” says James R. Baker, Jr., NanoBio‘s Founder and CEO. “We feel this could be a really useful therapy toward prevention.”

NanoBio’s technology appears effective at preventing infection, Baker says, while also remaining free of the disease-eliciting side effects that have derailed other attempts at an RSV vaccination.

The studies will evaluate the combination of Merck’s proprietary RSV antigen with NanoBio’s NanoStat adjuvant, which makes the vaccine more potent. As part of the agreement, Merck has the option to negotiate a non-exclusive license to NanoBio’s technology for use in the development of a commercial RSV vaccine.

Founded in 2000 as a spin-out from the University of Michigan’s Center for Biologic Nanotechnology, NanoBio is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing novel products for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases based on its patented NanoStat platform. Baker estimates that the collaboration with Merck will last 18 months to three years.

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