In California, Amyris, Inc. and IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute announced IDRI’s receipt of a $4.4 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health) to discover sustainable alternatives to shark squalene to use as vaccine adjuvants (grant number: R01AI135673). Funding is provided by a special bioengineering research grant aimed at bringing engineering expertise to focus on a biomedical problem and ultimately develop a new solution.
Adjuvants are added to vaccines to enhance their effectiveness; the aim of the new project is to discover and evaluate novel, sustainable squalene-like compounds produced by bio- or chemical engineering for vaccine adjuvant applications.
IDRI has selected Amyris and the University of Nottingham, (UK) as partners because of their record of success in engineering pure molecules from sustainable sources at low cost. Instead of sourcing squalene from sharks, Amyris uses patented biotechnology to create squalene-like compounds using sugarcane syrup as the fermentation feedstock. Amyris has developed specific expertise as a clean manufacturer of sustainably sourced squalane.