Scripps proprietary glycoprotein technology key to development of new diagnostic tests enabling the design of better, more effective vaccine programs for Lassa fever
Zalgen Labs LLC (Zalgen), a biotechnology and diagnostics company focused on high-impact, neglected infectious diseases including Lassa Fever (LF), today announced that it has licensed proprietary technology developed by structural biologist Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. at Scripps Research for use in the development and commercialization of next generation diagnostic test kits. The technology characterized the first high-resolution image of an arenavirus glycoprotein in its native trimer structure, expanding the capability for developing significantly more effective medical countermeasures.
This technology emanated from extensive research collaboration of the Saphire group at Scripps Research along with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) and the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium (VIC) working on advanced alternatives to treat Lassa fever infections. This first-in-class seminal study was published in the journal Science 2017 Jun 2; 356(6341):923-928. doi: 10.1126/science.aam7260.
Lassa fever is a dangerous, often fatal disease common to much of West Africa with children and pregnant women being the highest risk groups; early stages of the disease are difficult to distinguish from other diseases. Lassa fever is spread by contact with infected rodents and is estimated to infect 300,000 to 500,000 people per year across the region, with at least 5,000 deaths reported annually. The illness is characterized by bleeding and coagulation abnormalities, with mortality rates up to 70% in virus-positive cases in Sierra Leone.
“The application of this remarkable technology from Scripps Research to our own proven diagnostic delivery platforms will enable Zalgen to remain at the forefront of research and development of advanced products necessary to combat Lassa fever,” said Matthew L. Boisen, Ph.D., Zalgen Director of Diagnostics Development. “With ongoing support from the NIH, we will continue to collaborate with other academic and industry partners resulting in promising treatments for use in West Africa clinics and deployed as a deterrent against the use of Lassa virus as a bioweapon.”
Advancement of the Lassa virus glycoprotein diagnostic technology by Zalgen is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant 1R43AI138836-01.
About Zalgen Labs
Zalgen Labs is a biotechnology and diagnostics company with headquarters in Germantown, Md., and an advanced diagnostic product development center in Aurora, Colo. The company specializes in the design and production of superior biological molecules critical for the development and commercialization of immunotherapeutics, novel vaccines, and reliable, rapid and affordable diagnostic platforms targeting neglected and underrepresented human infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.zalgenlabs.com.
About Scripps Research
Scripps Research is ranked the most influential institution in the world for its impact on innovation, expanding basic knowledge in the biosciences and use these fundamental advancements to develop profound innovations that improve wellbeing. Scripps Research researchers lead breakthrough studies that address the world’s most pressing health concerns, with educational and training programs molding talented and committed students and postdocs into the next generation of leading scientists. Scripps Research is accelerating the creation and delivery of medical breakthroughs to better human health around the globe. For more information, visit www.scripps.edu.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium was established in 2014 to develop life-saving antibody therapeutics against some of the world’s deadliest viruses. The VIC represents a field-wide collaboration in which leading laboratories around the world have united to understand what features lead to antibody-mediated protection against these viruses and how we can more rapidly discover ideal treatments. This collaborative effort allows each laboratory to contribute their strengths in analytical techniques towards the identification, characterization, and validation of antibodies against the filoviridae and arenaviridae families. From isolating novel antibodies and testing them in vivo, to the structural analysis of the molecular mechanisms of neutralization, VIC scientists contribute unique insights towards the overall characterization of a broad pool of antibodies. The consortium is funded through a National Institute of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers for Excellence in Translational Research program grant. For more information, visit www.vhfimmunotherapy.org.
About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium was established in 2010 as a result of several multi-year grants and contracts awarded to Tulane University by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support Tulane’s ongoing efforts to treat and prevent Lassa fever. For more information, visit www.vhfc.org.
Zalgen Company Contact
Luis M. Branco, Ph.D. – Managing Director and Co-Founder
Phone (301) 720-0330