Pittsburgh-based protein engineering company BioHybrid Solutions (BHS) has won a $30m contract from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a prophylactic medical countermeasure.

The US Government is sponsoring the five-year project through the Medical CBRN Defense Consortium (MCDC).

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) selected BHS to apply its NanoArmored protein engineering technology to improve pharmacokinetics of the prophylactic, reducing immunogenic side-effects.

BHS will develop NanoArmored drug candidates, demonstrate the functionality, scale manufacturing, and complete regulatory activities to secure approval of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

BioHybrid Solutions co-founder and CEO Alan Russell said: “We have developed a unique way to protect against the toxic effects of chemical warfare agents and are honoured to have been selected by DTRA to lead this very important programme.”

The company is leading the programme in collaboration with FLIR Systems, Ology Bioservices, Battelle, Allegheny Health Network, BTG (part of Boston Scientific) and the US Army.

BHS will use its high-throughput discovery technology to select the NanoArmor needed and then manufacture the drug candidate.

BHS co-founder and CSO Krzysztof Matyjaszewski said: “Our technology allows us to rationally tune protein performance through precision modification of proteins with a wide variety of synthetic polymers.

“To date, we have created thousands of different NanoArmored proteins for a variety of industrial and therapeutic indications.

“We are well-positioned to apply our technology to this important national security and public health application.”

BHS is a platform technology company that develops NanoArmored protein-polymer conjugates.

The company uses proprietary technology originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University to modify proteins with polymers to improve their stability and performance.

The company said that the NanoArmor technology can improve processes, resulting in higher throughput, less waste and lower costs.

BHS said that the NanoArmor technology also has the potential to open new routes of administration, including injectable to oral, reduce immunogenicity, and improve pharmacokinetics.