The University of Washington, University of Texas Medical Branch and Kineta — a Seattle biotechnology upstart — have received an $8.1 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop drugs to combat Ebola, Marburg, Japanese encephalitis and other deadly diseases.

“This award enables us to push further and work with more high priority viruses,” said UW professor Dr. Michael Gale Jr., principal investigator of the grant.  “These diseases are major concerns of the United States government due to their potential to spark a pandemic and their potential use as bioterrorist weapons.  By utilizing an innate immune pathway, we hope to develop better drugs that won’t be out-smarted by viral mutation.”

Founded in 2007 by former Illunigen Biosciences executives Charles Magness and Shawn Iadonato, Kineta has already partnered with the University of Washington to develop drugs and vaccine boosters called adjuvants.

“The potential human benefit is great, with these therapies holding potential to treat an array of common and obscure viruses, those of moderate and grave concern,” said Dr. Iadonato.

With the new funds, the teams at Kineta, UW and University of Texas plan to study less commonly known viruses, such as such as Yellow fever, Ebola, Marburg and others. Kineta received a $2.8 million grant from the unit of the National Institutes of Health last year

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