The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded a $168m Project NextGen contract to ModeX Therapeutics to develop anti-viral therapies.

As per the contract, ModeX will develop multispecific antibodies, which can incorporate four to six independent antibody binding sites into a single molecule, using its MSTAR technology platform.

A part of the US Government’s Strategic Preparedness and Response division, BARDA has launched Project NextGen to develop vaccines and therapies for emerging infections, including Covid-19, influenza, and others. To achieve this, BARDA plans to leverage its public-private partnerships and plans to invest more than $5bn in the Project NextGen programme.

ModeX will receive an upfront payment of $59m to fund the Phase I trial, including development, manufacturing, and execution, for the multispecific antibody with a broad ability to neutralise the known variants of the SARS-CoV-2 strain.

The US-based company is also eligible for milestone-based payments of up to $109m for developing multispecific antibody therapies for other viral pathogens such as influenza. ModeX will also aim to develop gene-based delivery methods using mRNA or DNA vectors for multispecific antibodies.

BARDA has also partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to develop Covid-19 monoclonal antibody vaccine candidates. The US Government branch also contracted ICON to conduct the clinical trials for the Project NextGen vaccine candidates.

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In March, ModeX signed an exclusive global licence and collaboration deal with Merck & Co (MSD) to develop a vaccine candidate for Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), a leading cause of infectious mononucleosis.