VLP Therapeutics Announces Phase 1 SBIR Grant Award From National Cancer Institute
Grant will support development of novel Virus-Like Particle vaccine-based cancer immunotherapy

October 6, 2017

Gaithersburg, MD – VLP Therapeutics, LLC (“VLP”), a biotechnology company focusing on the research and development of therapeutic and preventative vaccines announced today the receipt of a Phase I grant from the National Cancer Institute under auspices of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the National Institutes of Health. The $298,729 grant under the Award Number R43CA217445 is focused on “the development of a novel Virus-Like Particle vaccine-based cancer immunotherapy targeting PD-L1” and will also explore broader immune checkpoint inhibition mechanisms.

The SBIR grant supports a VLP collaboration with Louis M Weiner, MD, Director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. The research will focus on determining immune response in mice and includes support for proof-of-concept studies at the Georgetown Lombardi. Weiner, an expert in cancer immunotherapeutics, is an unpaid member of the VLP Scientific Advisory Board. 

Dr. Wataru Akahata, PhD, CEO of VLP Therapeutics said, “We are pleased to receive the SBIR grant from NCI, which supports the application of our VLP technology to the field of cancer immunotherapy. PD-L1 inhibition is a promising approach to treat several different cancers and it is our belief that a Virus-Like Particle vaccine-based approach to targeting checkpoint inhibition could become a valuable addition to the treatment paradigm.”

About VLP Therapeutics

VLP Therapeutics was established in 2013 by seasoned biopharmaceutical veterans with the mission to develop innovative medical treatments which can transform traditional vaccines and targeted antibody therapies to address global unmet medical needs. Its vision is to combat 21st century global public health problems through its revolutionary next generation i-αVLP technology platform. VLP is currently developing vaccines to treat cancer and infectious diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever.

About i-α VLP Technology

The human immune system is biologically designed to protect us against disease. The immune system detects foreign objects such as viruses, bacteria or abnormal self-tissues (like cancer cells) in the body, and not only tries to eliminate these foreign objects, but also “memorizes” them so it can protect the body from them in the future. Vaccines utilize the immune system to protect us from various diseases.
Unlike traditional vaccines, are which are made using live viruses, VLP’s novel, proprietary platform technology utilizes virus-like particles. Virus-like particles are identical to the authentic native viruses in their shapes, but do not carry the genetic material of native viruses. Without the genetic material, these particles cannot replicate themselves. This means that when the virus-like particles are presented within our bodies, our immune system will recognize the particles as foreign objects, triggering effective immune responses, but should not cause the risk of side effects associated with the native virus due to the absence of genetic material.

Utilizing these virus-like particles, VLP Therapeutics has developed a proprietary, “plug-and-play” platform called inserted alphavirus virus-like particle (i-αVLP) using the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) VLP. Through this adaptable platform, foreign antigens can be inserted into two specific sites of the envelope protein on the surface of i-αVLP. With 240 copies of envelope protein per CHIKV VLP, each i-αVLP can display a tremendous 480 copies of an inserted antigen. This highly symmetrical, icosahedral dense array of antigens has been shown in our studies to induce very strong immune responses, resulting in its superior efficacy. VLP Therapeutics has established a method to efficiently produce i-αVLPs which it believes can be scaled for commercial production.


Wataru Akahata, CEO

Jacob Licht, COO