Following recently signed collaborations with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (GSK) and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (JPI), GlycoVaxyn AG, a leader in the development of innovative conjugate vaccines, this week announced that it has secured a Strategic Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust to finance its Shigella program.
The award will allow the Company to advance its Shigella bioconjugate vaccine by funding human safety and challenge studies in healthy adults to confirm the efficacy of a monovalent Shigella flexneri 2a vaccine, before testing a multivalent vaccine in field studies in children. Clinical trials are scheduled to start in 2014 in the U.S.
Shigella is one of the main causes of a diarrheal disease that causes illness and death among young children in low-income countries. Various serotypes of this Gram-negative bacterium are responsible for the diarrhea and, with regional differences in serotype distribution, up to 6 serotypes need to be included in a vaccine to provide broad protection and prevent Shigellosis worldwide.
GlycoVaxyn’s in vivo glycosylation technology enables the possibility to develop such a complex multivalent Shigella vaccine for the first time. Complexes of the antigenic surface polysaccharides and proteins can now be directly synthesized in genetically engineered bacterial cells. This multivalent Shigella bioconjugate vaccine can be manufactured at low costs, a distinct advantage compared to conjugate vaccines that are chemically produced.
“An estimated 1.1 million people die from Shigella infections each year, mostly children under the age of five living in low income countries,” said Richard Seabrook, Ph.D., head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust. “With rising antibiotic resistance limiting our treatment options, we urgently need an affordable vaccine that will provide broad protection against the many strains of Shigella bacteria that cause disease.”
Dr Michael Wacker, chief scientific officer of GlycoVaxyn added, “We are very honored to work with this prestigious global charitable foundation and proud to contribute to the development of a vaccine that addresses a critical medical need among millions around the world. GlycoVaxyn has previously conducted a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers on a single serotypeShigella conjugate vaccine. This collaboration will enable us to investigate a new vaccine against a different single serotype, moving this important program forward towards a broad acting vaccine that protects against multiple serotypes.”
Gordon Dougan, Ph.D., member of GlycoVaxyn’s Scientific Advisory Board and professor at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge commented, “GlycoVaxyn is using highly innovative technology to break open new fields in vaccinology. I am delighted to see them work together with the Wellcome Trust to apply this technology to vaccines for children suffering from dysentery.”