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Antigen Discovery Wins $3.1M from NIAID for Work on Malaria Markers, Microfluidic Dx Device

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Proteomics firm Antigen Discovery said this week that it has received two Small Business Innovation Research awards totaling roughly $3.1 million for work on protein biomarkers for malaria and an integrated microfluidic point-of-care diagnostic device.

The malaria biomarker award is a three-year, Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease totaling $2.5 million. The microfluidic device award is a Phase I SBIR grant, also from the NIAID, totaling $600,000.

For the malaria work, ADi will use its protein microarrays to identify biomarkers associated with patient response to treatment with malaria therapies developed by vaccine firm Sanaria. The company will study subjects in human trials for Sanaria products including its PfSPZ Vaccine (radiation attenuated Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites), PfSPZ Challenge (infectious sporozoites), and PfSPZ CVac (PfSPZ Challenge administered with malaria chemoprophylaxis).

"By comparing the serum antibody profiles from vaccinees who are protected with those who are not, we aim to identify surrogate antibody biomarkers associated with sporozoite mediated protection," Philip Felgner, ADi's chairman and founder, said in a statement. "Such markers are a critically important component of vaccine development."

The Irvine, Calif.-based firm will also analyze serum samples from clinical studies on malaria immunization conducted at Radboud University Nijmengen Medical Center in the Netherlands.

The second award will fund a collaboration between ADi and researchers at the University of California, Irvine, to develop an integrated microfluidic platform for running the company's antibody-based diagnostics in point-of-care settings, including scenes of mass disasters, disease outbreaks, and bioterror threats.

The project aims to combine air-liquid cavity acoustic transducer technology, or ALCAT, developed by UC Irvine researcher Abraham Lee, with ADi's protein microarray platform and its library of serodiagnostic antigens.

In a statement, Lee said that ALCAT could simplify microfluidic platforms by providing a single actuator for all fluidic processes taking place in the device. "By incorporating novel ALCAT-based approaches into protein microarray assays, we will have the versatility and power to reduce enzymatic development times, limit production costs, and fully integrate all components into a disposable assay," he said.

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