SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In collaboration with the University of Washington and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Seattle-based biotech company, Kineta, Inc. announced a new $8.1 million biodefense grant to develop new drugs to treat some of the world’s most dangerous diseases, including Ebola, plague, Japanese encephalitis, and other lethal pathogens.
The funding to advance next generation antiviral therapeutics comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“This award enables us to push further and work with more high priority viruses,” said UW professor Dr. Michael Gale, Jr., principal investigator of the grant. “These diseases are major concerns of the United States government for their risk of sparking a pandemic and their potential use as bioterrorist weapons. By utilizing an innate immune pathway we hope to develop better drugs that won’t be out-smarted by viral mutation.”
Dr. Gale, a UW professor of immunology, adjunct professor of global health and microbiology, and affiliate investigator of the Clinical Research Division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is Director of the NIH-supported Center for The Study of Immune Mechanisms of Virus Control at UW. His research is focused on understanding innate immunity to virus infection, and the intracellular immune processes and virus-host interactions that control viral replication and infection outcome.
The project leverages discoveries from ongoing collaborations between Kineta and UW to develop novel antiviral drugs and vaccine boosters called adjuvants. Dr. Michael Katze, a UW professor of microbiology and associate director of the Washington Regional Primate Research Center, will provide bioinformatics and systems biology genomics analysis. Dr. Shawn P. Iadonato, chief scientific officer at Kineta, will lead drug optimization and in-vivo pharmacology work. Dr. Thomas Geisbert, of University of Texas Medical Branch and the Galveston National Lab (GNL), a leader in biodefense research will oversee research on bio-safety level 4 viral agents, including Ebola and Nipah viruses.
“A primary mission of the Galveston National Lab is to engage our unique resources in translating research ideas into products aimed at combating emerging infectious diseases,” said Dr. Geisbert. “This collaboration between Kineta, the University of Washington and the GNL leverages expertise and resources from academia and industry to promote the advancement of countermeasures against Ebola and Nipah viruses in particular, two high priority public health and biodefense threat agents.”
“The potential human benefit is great, with these therapies holding potential to treat an array of common and obscure viruses, those of moderate and grave concern,” said Dr. Iadonato.
This new infusion of support will help Kineta move two small molecule drug candidates closer to first in human clinical trials. The program, Agonists of the Retinoic Acid Inducible Gene I (RIG-I) Innate Immune Pathway focuses on high need viruses including: influenza, hepatitis C, West Nile virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RIG-I is a molecular “on/off” switch that triggers the human body’s innate immune system to eliminate infection.
This grant will increase the number of disease targets to include less commonly known henipaviruses and filoviruses such as Yellow fever, Ebola, Marburg, plague and others. Currently, treatment of all viral diseases is severely limited by a lack of effective drugs.
For more information on today’s announcement or to schedule interviews with:
* Dr. Michael Gale, University of Washington, contact Bobbi Nodell, 206-543-8309, email@example.com
* Dr. Thomas Geisbert, University of Texas, contact Raul Reyes, 409-772-6397, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Dr. Shawn Iadonato, Kineta. Inc., contact Meg O’Conor, investor relations director, 206-251-8638, email@example.com
Kineta, Inc. is a Seattle-based privately held biotechnology company specializing in clinical advancement of immunotherapeutic drug candidates. Our world class scientists are pioneers in developing life-changing classes of drugs that harness the power of the immune system to fight disease. Kineta seeks to improve the lives of millions of people suffering from autoimmune and viral diseases. Our progressive business model focuses on targeting unmet medical needs and rapid achievement of important clinical milestones. For more information on Kineta, Inc. visit our website, www.Kinetabio.com.
UW Medicine trains health professionals and medical scientists, conducts research to improve health and prevent disease worldwide, and provides primary and specialty care to patients throughout Seattle/King County and the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) region. UW Medicine includes: Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest. UW Medicine also shares in the ownership and governance of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance with Seattle Children’s Hospital and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and shares in ownership of Children’s University Medical Group with Seattle Children’s Hospital. UW Medicine has major academic and service affiliations with Seattle Children’s Hospital, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Veteran’s Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, and the VA Hospital in Boise, Idaho. The UW School of Medicine has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in primary-care training for the past 18 years by US News & World Report. It is the top public institution for receipt of biomedical research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and second among all institutions for NIH funding, public and private. UW Medicine’s 2,000 full-time faculty and nearly 5,000 volunteer and part-time faculty include four Nobel Laureates, 33 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and 33 members of the Institute of Medicine. For more information, visit www.UWMedicine.washington.edu or follow us on Twitter - @UWMedicineNews
The Galveston National Laboratory is an academic research facility located on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. One of the largest and most sophisticated biocontainment laboratories in the United States, the GNL conducts basic and applied research utilizing the unique resources of its BSL-2, -3 and -4 containment facilities to discover novel diagnostics, therapeutics and preventatives for some of the world’s most threatening infectious diseases. GNL scientists work collaboratively with experts from around the world to make fundamental discoveries and translate this knowledge into useful products for global applications. The GNL was dedicated in 2008, is AAALAC accredited and is approved to handle select agents.
The project described is supported by Award Number, 1RO1AI 098943-01 from the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases or the National Institutes of Health.
This document contains certain forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements regarding Kineta’s plans for preclinical studies and prospective FDA filings. You are cautioned that such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties inherent in Kineta’s business which could significantly affect expected results, including without limitation progress of drug development, clinical testing and regulatory approval, developments in raw material and personnel costs, and legislative, fiscal, and other regulatory measures. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement, and Kineta undertakes no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the issuance of this press release.