Ann Arbor-based NanoBio Corporation announced Tuesday that it has received a $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support development of an intranasal vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

RSV is a highly contagious viral disease and is one of the most common causes of bronchiolitis and pneumonia. It is the No. 1 cause of childhood hospitalization both in the United States and around the world.

Nearly all children are infected with the virus at least once by the age of 2 to 3 years. The disease is particularly dangerous for premature babies, children with other health conditions and the elderly. Many children develop persistent pulmonary disease or asthma that persists throughout adult life, making them susceptible to re-infection as adults. Currently, there are no approved vaccines for RSV.

“An RSV vaccine is a tremendous unmet need today,” said Ali I. Fattom, NanoBio’s senior vice president of vaccine research and development. “Pneumonia is a leading cause of childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa and new research suggests that RSV infection is the most common cause of viral pneumonia in parts of Africa. Our intranasal vaccine technology is unique in that it safely elicits very robust disease protection, limits the need for refrigerating vaccines and is administered without the use of needles. Each of these advantages is critical to efforts to improve health in the developing world.”

NanoBio’s lead vaccine candidate is NB-1008, a seasonal influenza vaccine administered via a nasal dropper. In a recently completed Phase 1 clinical study, NB-1008 was safe, well tolerated and elicited both mucosal and systemic immune responses following a single intranasal vaccination in a study of 199 healthy adults.

Other NanoBio intranasal vaccines have elicited robust immune responses in animals vaccinated against pandemic influenza, hepatitis B, HIV, pneumococcal, anthrax, smallpox and other diseases.

The company’s platform technology has demonstrated numerous advantages over traditional vaccines, including the ability to generate robust mucosal and systemic immunity; antigen-sparing qualities; cross-protection against non-vaccinated strains; ability to adjuvant multiple antigen types without inducing inflammation; thermally stabilizing the vaccine; and removing the need for needles.

“We believe our program holds tremendous promise for addressing a number of global health challenges,” said James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., NanoBio founder and CEO. “In various studies, our technology has shown a unique ability to elicit robust mucosal, systemic and cellular Th1 immunity following nasal vaccination. These advantages could prove essential in the development of an RSV vaccine, as well as other new mucosal vaccines for widespread respiratory and sexually transmitted diseases.”

NanoBio’s lead product candidates are treatments for herpes labialis (licensed to GSK in the U.S. and Canada), onychomycosis, acne, cystic fibrosis and a broad platform of intranasal vaccines.

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