GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- GenVec Inc. announced today that it has received an additional $1.7 million in federal support to advance the development of countermeasure vaccines to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.



The support is provided by the USDA Agricultural Research Service funded through an interagency agreement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.



FMD has been identified as a key potential threat to the U.S. economy and the country's food supply, whether infection were to occur as a result of bioterrorism or by accidental exposure to the disease. GenVec is developing candidate vaccines and anti-viral agents to prevent the spread of FMD through a multi-year research collaboration with the ARS and will use the additional DHS funding to support the company's activities this year.

A prototype Ad5-FMD vaccine, initially developed by ARS, was the first recombinant FMD vaccine to protect swine and cattle from FMD virus challenge with one inoculation. In subsequent collaborative studies with DHS, ARS and GenVec, GenVec's proprietary adenovector system and cell line was used to safely produce an effective FMD vaccine for the first time on the U.S. mainland.



Preliminary testing by DHS scientists has shown that this vaccine candidate effectively prevented clinical disease (symptoms) in cattle when they were challenged with the FMD virus.



FMD, a highly contagious disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, has been identified as a key potential threat to the U.S. economy and the country's food supply, whether infection were to occur as a result of bioterrorism or by accidental exposure to the disease. Without a marked vaccine that can be safely manufactured in the U.S., options for responding to an FMD outbreak in the U.S. are more limited. The curtailment of meat and meat products for domestic supply and the stoppage of meat exports would have severe economic consequences.



The report also notes that U.S. exports of cattle, sheep, hogs and many of their products vary annually from $6 to $10 billion, that many of these exports would face restrictions during an FMD outbreak and that if even one area of one state was affected by FMD, trade restrictions would be imposed on the nation as a whole, at least during the initial stage of the outbreak. Brazil, the world's leading exporter of cattle products, is currently experiencing global trade restrictions due to recent FMD outbreaks in two major beef producing states, which could cost the sector up to $1 billion in lost revenue for this year.



GenVec is a publicly held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel therapies that improve patient care in the areas of cancer and cardiac disease, and to prevent vision loss. The vaccines discussed in this release have not been approved by the USDA, the FDA or any other regulatory agency.



At Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and USDA ARS and APHIS are successfully coordinating research and diagnostics programs as part of a broad joint strategy developed by DHS and USDA to protect the nation against the intentional or accidental introduction of foreign animal diseases. PIADC's activities include conducting research to develop more sensitive and accurate methods of livestock disease detection, identification, treatment, and prevention. PIADC is the only facility in the U.S. that is approved to study high-consequence foreign livestock diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.



SOURCE: GenVec Inc. via Business Wire.