AlphaVax, a developer of vaccine-related technologies, has received a $3.6 million federal contract for research into a means of boosting vaccines such as those used to combat influenza.

The contract, which is spread over three years, is from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

AlphaVax will use the funds to study development of adjuvants, or agents, that enhance the effects of other agents. The company seeks to develop virus-like particles that could act as “highly potent adjuvants” when administered along with vaccines.

In animal studies, AlphaVax said the adjuvants and vaccines induced “greater than 10-fold higher antibody responses.”

“ In animals, a single inoculation of the combined VRP adjuvant and influenza vaccine can induce higher immune responses than two doses of the influenza vaccine alone,” AlphaVax said in a statement.

The development of the adjuvant technologies was initially intended to “enhance” AlphaVax’s proprietary vaccine technology.

AlphaVax has proprietary technology for producing vaccines based on modified alphaviruses. Alphaviruses are defined by the Centers for Disease Control as RNA-containing viruses that are often found in mosquito-transmitted diseases.

AlphaVax closed on $12.7 million in new financing in Feburary and launched clinical trials for two vaccines related to herpes and influenza in April.

"We are pleased to receive this new award," said Jonathan Smith, AlphaVax’s chief scientific officer and principal investigator for the new grant. "We developed these adjuvant technologies to enhance our vector-based vaccines, but were excited to find that they also significantly improved the immunogenicity of more conventional vaccine approaches."

AlphaVax plans to launch trials targeting vaccines for colon cancer and a potential pandemic influenza outbreak over the next two years.