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CUBRC gets funding for bioweapon vaccine research

Cheektowaga research company CUBRC and a Rhode Island biotechnology company have received nearly $1.9 million in federal defense funding to try to develop a vaccine for an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria that could be turned into a biological weapon.

The four-year funding agreement for CUBRC and its partner, EpiVax, calls for the companies to investigate immune cells from people who previously were infected by the bacteria that causes Melioidosis, or Whitmore's disease. The disease is mostly found in tropical climates and is especially widespread in Southeast Asia and northern Australia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The bacteria that causes Melioidosis is found in contaminated water and soil. It is spread to humans and animals through direct contact with the contaminated source, the CDC said. But the bacteria also could be used as a biological weapon, which is why the Defense Department is funding the research project to seek potential vaccines, said Katie Edwards, CUBRC's co-principal investigator.

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