The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded $3.1 million to Colorado State University to produce strains of the novel coronavirus for use in a vaccine.
Feasibility testing at the university has already begun for SolaVAX, which employs ultraviolet light and riboflavin to inactivate the virus and stimulate an immune system response. The process is based on longstanding methods to improve blood transfusion safety.
Izabela Ragan, a veterinary scientist, told CSU’s campus news service that the federal funding “will help us build on that momentum, understand the vaccine platform, and benefits for in vivo models. That will help us understand what this vaccine is doing in terms of protection.”
The NIAID money follows a $700,000 award that the university received from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for preclinical research.
CSU Ventures, which is in charge of commercializing innovations at the university, estimates that one machine can produce up to three million SolaVAX doses within five minutes. SolaVAX may also be effective against MERS, another respiratory virus.
“We’ll make sure the vaccine we produce is physically stable,” said John Wyckoff, an immunologist who heads CSU's BioMARC manufacturing facility. “And we’ll eventually move into producing material that will be used in human clinical trials.”