Local Tech Wire

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – , a developer of vaccines, will build a 90,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the Triangle with $21 million in funding from the Pentagon.

The vaccines would be used to fight a future pandemic. The news came on the same day that the World Health organization declared the to be over.

The project will create 85 jobs, and the facility will be built in Durham County over the next 14 months, according to Medicago Chief Executive Officer Andy Sheldon.

The state of North Carolina is making a $128,000 One North Carolina Fund grant toward the project.

The company is developing a technology that produces vaccines within tobacco plants. Protein for the vaccine are harvested from the tobacco.

Based on its process, Medicago believes it can identify a vaccine and produce an injectable vaccine in a month.

State, local, government and company officials made the announcement Tuesday morning at the

Medicago USA will build the plant. It is a subsidiary of Canada-based Medicago, Inc.

The company will contribute $7.5 million toward the project.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities is investing $13.5 million in the project. Alexandria is a real estate firm focused on the life science industry.

The project is receiving funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is part of a program called Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals through which the federal government is seeking means to manufacture vaccines in large quantities in a short period of time in response to “novel biologic threats.”

Medicago, which is based in Quebec, is developing vaccines based on proprietary technology it calls “virus-like particles.” The target for this project is a potential influenza outbreak.

The RTP facility is to intended to demonstrate Medicago’s ability to scale up and produce 10 million doses a month for influenza vaccines.

The lead vaccine for Medicago, called H5N1, is still involved in clinical trials.

According to the company, its technology enables development of a vaccine for testing “in about a month” after the genetics of a pandemic strain have been identified.

“This production time frame has the potential to allow vaccination of the population before the first wave of a pandemic strikes and to supply large volumes of vaccine antigens to the world market,” Medicago says.

Medicago said the facility could be expanded in the future.

"We are thrilled to be awarded such significant funding from DARPA for the development of a state-of-the-art plant-based VLP vaccine capability in the U.S.A. as it further validates the growing and strategic interest in our rapid and cost-effective vaccine technology," Sheldon said in a statement.

"This DARPA funding is also perfectly in line with our development plan for both our pandemic and seasonal influenza products as we will now have a U.S. facility ready to participate in the $7B pandemic and seasonal influenza markets," he added. "In addition, our U.S. facility will provide us enhanced access to the various grant programs in the U.S.A. and we will be ready to take part in these additional funding opportunities."

Get the latest news alerts: at Twitter.