BALTIMORE—In what it is calling "another important milestone" in its work to champion the use of lentiviral vectors in drug discovery, development and manufacturing, Lentigen Corp. recently entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).
In this collaboration, Lentigen and the ECBC will collaborate on a variety of potential research programs focusing on vaccine development, therapeutics and biodefense applications of lentiviral vectors. The parties note that the CRADA will provide Lentigen with access to ECBC's cGMP manufacturing facilities and services, but no specific details were released regarding financial terms.
The cGMP manufacturing capabilities are a particular draw for Lentigen, says Dr. Boro Dropulic, founder and CEO of Lentigen, saying, "We believe this CRADA will create a compelling combination that is likely to result in innovative and compelling new programs and technologies."
"Researching and developing products for biodefense applications, pandemic disease and similar uses is a natural application for our platform, so when the chance to work with the Army came along, we welcomed it," Dropulic says, adding that Lentigen has applied for various grants the Army is offering for other projects. "Our technology is basically a manufacturing platform with which we can rapidly develop cell lines to produce vaccines or monoclonal antibodies against targets of interest."
The technology provides not only speedy results but high yields, Dropulic says, which is important when dealing with bioterrorism and pandemic outbreaks.
But he is quick to point out that lentiviral vectors and his company's technology are about more than manufacturing benefits. The technology is also ripe for rapidly producing cell lines for drug screening and validation efforts during the discovery process.
"It provides a very quick way to screen for toxicity," Dropulic explains, "and then once you've gotten past that step, you can use the same lentiviral vector to produce a transgenic mouse—and lentiviral vectors are the most efficient way to do that—and then test your candidate at the animal level."
Pharmaceutical companies are only now starting to recognize the value and wide range of uses for lentiviral vectors, Dropulic says, not only for cell line generation at the discovery level or manufacturing, but also for potential gene therapies. He says this current deal, along with other milestones achieved by Lentigen, should help advance the technology.