New technology for Zika vaccine development licensed by INBT researchers

Pharos Biologicals, LLC (Pharos) has been awarded the exclusive worldwide licenses for a patented Lysosome-Associated Membrane Protein (LAMP) DNA vaccine technology, as well as for certain nanotechnologies to deliver the vaccines, by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The worldwide licenses are for use in the development and delivery of vaccines for influenza and flaviviruses.

Pharos was formed in December 2015 by J. Thomas August, M.D., University Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology. The initial focus of the company is on the Zika vaccine development, to be followed by vaccines for dengue and influenza viruses.  The company anticipates that it will be ready to begin Phase 1 clinical trials of its Zika vaccine candidate by autumn of 2016.

The Baltimore Sun has reported the news here.

Dr. J. Thomas August (PRNewsFoto/Pharos Biologicals)

Dr. J. Thomas August (PRNewsFoto/Pharos Biologicals)

The LAMP technology was validated commercially in October 2015 when a license awarded by Johns Hopkins to Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. for allergen vaccines was sold to Astellas, a global pharmaceutical company, for $300 million.

The LAMP technology, invented by Dr. August, represents a breakthrough in the application of DNA vaccines by the use of normal cellular mechanisms to enhance the immune response to the vaccine. Most vaccines use a weakened form of a pathogen in which a live, but reduced virulence version of the virus is introduced into the body. The LAMP DNA vaccine is not a live virus vaccine, has a more rapid development timeline, delivers the pathogen antigen directly to cell proteins that bring about immunological responses, and is highly stable.

The threat that Zika virus poses is growing, with the WHO declaring a state of Public Health Emergency of International Concernon February 1, 2016, and it is expected that travel-associated cases will increase ( The virus can also be spread by sexual transmission, which potentially raises the risk of spread.

Pharos is also supported by research directed by Prof. Hai-Quan Mao PhD in Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering, and the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and an Associate Director of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Mao was the 2015 winner of the Cohen Translational Engineering Award and the Louis B. Thalheimer Award for Translational Research.

Hai-Quan Mao (Mary Spiro/INBT)

Hai-Quan Mao (Mary Spiro/INBT)

David W. Wise, a business executive with sixteen years of C-Level experience and who has been active in the medtech startup and venture capital community in Baltimore as the Venture Advisor to the Abell Foundation for the past several years, serves as Chief Executive Officer of Pharos.

For more information on the LAMP Vaccine technology and Pharos Biologicals, visit

To learn more about Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, visit

Written by Daniel Waldman for Pharos Biologicals.

For media inquiries regarding INBT, contact Mary Spiro at

Leave a Comment