Thyreos awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to accelerate the development of herpesvirus vaccine

Nebraska-based biotech startup Thyreos has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop a new vaccine to protect against Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), a disease that causes respiratory illness in cattle. Bovine alphaherpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) is endemic…

Image courtesy Thyreos
Image courtesy Thyreos

Nebraska-based biotech startup Thyreos has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to develop a new vaccine to protect against Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), a disease that causes respiratory illness in cattle.

Bovine alphaherpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) is endemic in the U.S. cattle population and responsible for significant economic loss to the milk and beef industries. BoHV-1 is a cause of “shipping fever,” which results from stress placed on cattle during shipping that reactivates latent infection and is a cause of Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR).

Thyreos technology improves upon vaccines that are commercially available by protecting the animal’s nervous system from herpesvirus invasion and the subsequent establishment of lifelong latent infections.

Thyreos R2 technology selectively removes neuroinvasive potential of herpesvirus by eliminating a viral component that is responsible for the transmission of these viruses into the nervous system. Thyreos R2 vaccines keep the nervous system pristine and free of virus while fortifying the immune system with remarkable efficacy.

The SBIR program at the USDA offers competitively awarded grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits. The program stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses.

The Thyreos team includes Co-founders Gary Pickard, PhD. Professor of Neuroscience in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Gregory Smith, PhD Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University; and
Ekaterina Heldwein, PhD, Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University, as well as Thyreos CEO Eric Zeece.

“We are pleased to receive a Phase I SBIR grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture,” said Zeece. “BoHV-1 and associated respiratory diseases are responsible for significant costs to cattle producers. Thyreos R2 vaccines represent a new technological approach to developing alpha herpesvirus vaccines that decrease producer costs through improved efficacy and safety.”

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