Celdara Medical Secures Funding to Develop an Adjuvanted Universal Flu Vaccine

Celdara Medical, LLC today announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a two-year Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to fund the development of the novel, parasite-derived, antigen-sparing protein adjuvant ASP-1 for flu vaccines.

This project builds on the inventions of co-collaborators Dr. Sara Lustigman of New York Blood Center and Dr. Florian Krammer of the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in New York.

“We are extremely grateful for this support, especially during these challenging times,” Dr. Julie Coleman, developmental lead of research aimed at the discovery of multiple helminth-derived adjuvants said. “New Influenza outbreaks have the potential to be deadlier than COVID-19. The scientists and policymakers at NIAID and across NIH know this well, and we are therefore heartened that during a global pandemic, preparedness against other threats continues to be supported.”

ASP-1 is an immunostimulatory protein of the filarial nematode Onchocerca volvulus, which has been demonstrated by Scientific Founder and inventor, Dr. Sara Lustigman to be a safe, potent, and antigen-sparing adjuvant eliciting strong vaccine-induced responses that can provide complete protection in animal models against many viruses. Notably, ASP-1-adjuvanted in concert with commercial seasonal flu vaccines has been shown to provide protection and excellent immune profiles targeting antigenically distinct flu viruses. This program is designed to generate an ASP-1-adjuvanted universal flu vaccine that will protect against a broad range of flu viruses.

“The funding by NIAID provides us with a unique and exciting opportunity to translate our promising research with the seasonal flu vaccines in animal models into safe, potent, and newly developed vaccines also for human use. These funds will help us to develop improved ways to produce large quantities of the ASP-1 adjuvant and optimize the vaccine formulations,” said Dr. Sara Lustigman, Head of Laboratory of Molecular Parasitology at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute at New York Blood Center. “As the threat of a more powerful virus looms this fall, ASP-1 could be an extremely important variable in safeguarding the public against future flu viruses.” 

Celdara Medical, LLC is an experienced biopharma developer focused on launching promising products to the patients who need them the most. Celdara has a robust anti-infective pipeline and is proud to partner with the New York Blood Center and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to develop a countermeasure directed against pandemic flu. Dr. Brandy Houser, Site Head, New York City commented, “Having come face-to-face with COVID-19 here in NYC, we are pleased to continue working with seminal institutions such as the New York Blood Center and the Icahn School of Medicine to develop novel biologics that can protect all Americans against future viral pandemic threats.” 

The research reported in this press release is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under contract number 75N93020C00041. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.