SunFire Biotechnologies LLC was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Defense to continue advancing a multiplexed serum bactericidal assay (mSBA) to support the development of Shigella vaccines.
The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant is approximately $1 million over two years for SunFire to further refine the mSBA, allowing SunFire to function as a contract research organization to support companies that are developing Shigella vaccines.
Shigella is a gastrointestinal infection, causing diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Shigella outbreaks occur primarily in developing countries, and the Department of Defense is funding this research because members of the military often contract such infections while deployed abroad. SunFire co-founder Moon Nahm, M.D., said Shigella vaccines that result from the assay will also benefit indigenous populations suffering from such infections. “Shigella is a major cause of severe diarrheal infections in developing countries. A Shigella vaccine would not only benefit the local population but would also provide protection for military personnel deployed to these areas,” Nahm said. “The development of a reliable, high-throughput functional test for antibodies against Shigella will facilitate vaccine development.”
SunFire Chief Operating Officer Deborah Bidanset, Ph.D., said SunFire is also developing ready-to-go kits so that vaccine pioneers can make use of the assay wherever they are.