Pfenex Inc. has announced that Leidos Holdings, Inc. (formerly SAIC) has awarded Pfenex a subcontract to develop a robust, scalable, cGMP-ready production process for large-scale production of the blood-stage malaria antigen Plasmodium falciparum reticulocyte-binding homolog 5 (Rh5).
This contract is a result of successful pre-clinical studies performed by Leidos collaborators to evaluate the Rh5 antigen that was produced using the Pfēnex Expression Technology™ platform.
The subcontract is funded with federal funds from Leidos’ prime Malaria Vaccine Production and Support Services (MVPSS) contract (N01.AI.05421) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
This is the second subcontract awarded to Pfenex for the development of critical, hard-to-express malaria antigens. Leidos had previously awarded Pfenex a subcontract to develop a scalable, cGMP-ready production process for large-scale production of full length Circumsporozoite protein (CSP) from P. falciparum.
“We are pleased to be awarded this contract as we expand our effort to find an effective therapy for malaria," stated Bertrand C. Liang, Pfenex’s Chief Executive Officer. “Pfēnex Expression Technology™ has once again demonstrated its ability to efficiently produce a high–value, complex protein enabling the potential of a multivalent malaria vaccine.”
Pfenex will immediately commence process development activities while continuing to provide materials to Leidos and NIAID for ongoing preclinical studies.
“Working with Pfenex and NIAID on this program is an important step in the development of an effective malaria vaccine,” said James Pannucci, Ph.D., vice president of the Leidos Health Life Sciences team. “We hope our work will lead to new discoveries and have a profound effect on the world’s health.”
The Leidos Life Science team operates a virtual drug development enterprise that bridges the gap between federal agencies and commercial clients, along with a modest portfolio of vaccine and therapeutic candidates.