A cutting edge company that will use molecular biology to develop virus-like-particle technology for new vaccines and diagnostics is the first spinout of the BioHio Research Park at the Ohio agricultural Research and Development Center. The patented technology used by LARAD Inc. is the result of research conducted by Daral Jackwood, a professor in OARDC's Food Animal Health Research Program.
"We are very excited to work with Dr. Jackwood in the startup of his company providing support and guidance at this early stage," says Shauna R. Brummet, president and CEO of BioHio, an agbioscience technology park based on OARDC's Wooster campus. "This is an example of the important technology being developed at OARDC that can be moved into a locally based startup company, which will create high-paying jobs in our region."
LARAD stands for Leadership for Advanced Responses to Animal Diseases. The company is using molecular biology methods to develop virus-like-particle technology for new vaccines and diagnostics that will benefit the food-animal industry and safeguard our food-production system.
"These are cutting-edge products that will allow the industry to do things it hasn't been able to do before," says Jackwood, LARAD Inc. founder and scientific adviser.
LARAD will focus on production of VLPs for infectious bursal disease virus, a highly contagious immunosuppressive disease that affects poultry worldwide. Effective control of this disease is critical to the United States, the world's largest poultry producer with an annual farm value in excess of $20 billion.
In Ohio, IBDV threatens an industry worth close to $700 million a year and which supports more than 15,000 jobs. LARAD's IBDV vaccine can be produced at a reduced cost compared to conventional inactivated vaccines currently used internationally, and has the potential to capture this $17 million a year market, according to Jackwood. The vaccine could also replace autogenous vaccines used by the U.S poultry industry, a market currently worth $3-4 million annually and projected to increase two-fold over the next five years, Jackwood says.
"Using the unique VLPs created in our lab through genetic engineering, we have produced and validated a universal vaccine that will protect against multiple strains of IBDV," Jackwood says. "Another advantage of this vaccine is that it is flexible, meaning that if virus mutations take place, new antigens can be introduced to keep pace with those changes. Currently, there are no commercially available VLP vaccines for IBDV or any other poultry disease, and there are no universal vaccines of any kind available in the market for prevention of IBDV."
The company also plans to produce VLPs as reagents for use in IBDV diagnostic kits. The VLP reagents, Jackwood says, are of higher quality and less expensive than the ones presently used in the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) kits made by diagnostic companies.
In the future, LARAD plans to expand its portfolio to include VLP vaccines and diagnostic reagents for other diseases, including viral diseases of swine, cattle, horses, fish, cats and dogs. The market value for such a broad food-animal and companion-animal disease portfolio could reach into the billions of dollars, Jackwood says.