In April 2023 PharmaJet announced that it had received a “scope expansion” and “3-year extension” of a multi-year agreement with the Joint Science and Technology Office of the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The expansion award is worth $4 million and contributes to the advancement of clinical assessment of PharmaJet’s Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (VEEV) DNA candidate vaccine. This is to be used in combination with the Tropis Intradermal or Stratis Intramuscular Systems. 


VEEV belongs to the alphavirus group. It causes encephalitis and potential mortality in infected humans and equines. It is primarily spread by mosquitoes in Central and South America but has been found it the continental US. In the past it has been weaponised and is therefore a potential biothreat agent. There are no approved human vaccines or therapeutics available.  

Vaccine efforts 

PharmaJet states that DNA vaccination has proven a most effective tool to elicit protective immune responses against alphavirus challenge. Indeed, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and PharmaJet found in a non-human primate study that a “prime and single boost” by either the Stratis or Tropis options resulted in “humoral and cellular immune responses” offering “significant protection” against VEEV disease and viremia.  

Thus, the vaccine candidate is being advanced into human trials. The Phase I study is sponsored by PharmaJet and will hopefully determine the “optimal dose and precision delivery system” that is appropriate for use in “broader clinical evaluations”. The study start is anticipated to take place later this year.  

Chris Cappello is President and CEO of PharmaJet, and hopes that his team’s participation will “contribute to the development of biothreats countermeasures not only to protect military positions and strategies” but also to “increase government’s ability to combat disease in naturally occurring epidemics”.  

“We look forward to the clinical results of this promising DNA vaccine candidate with our commercially available needle-free precision delivery systems.”  

To understand more about how PharmaJet’s needle free technology works and can be used for a variety of purposes, watch our exclusive interview with Dr Erin Spiegel from the World Vaccine Congress in Barcelona last year. Or subscribe to hear more from another PharmaJet interview filmed at the Congress in Washington this month.