CARB-X funds vaccines companies
CARB-X has recently funded several vaccines projects to fight AMR-related infections developed by US-based SutroVax and Swiss Vaxxilon AG.
In early September, CARB-X has awarded SutroVax of Foster City, California, USA, a grant of up to $1.64 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $13.4 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop an innovative vaccine to prevent infections caused by Group A Streptococcus(GAS) bacteria in developing countries and in the developed world.
Currently, no vaccine exists for Group A Streptococcus(GAS) bacteria, the causative pathogen in pharyngitis (‘Strep Throat’), which can range from minor illness to very serious and deadly disease. GAS also can cause post-infectious immune-mediated rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a leading cause of mortality in the developing world.
The SutroVax project is in the early stages of development but if successful and approved for use in patients, it could save lives, improve public health and strengthen health security world-wide. “The funding will support our collaborative efforts to develop a safe, effective Group A Strep vaccine to prevent a highly prevalent disease with wide-spread morbidity and mortality, particularly in the developing world,” said Grant Pickering, CEO and co-founder of SutroVax. “We are grateful for this support from CARB-X to accelerate the development of this promising vaccine.”
The SutroVax vaccine is currently in the lead optimization phase of development. The vaccine is composed of Group A Strep carbohydrate antigen coupled to an immunogenic protein carrier using SutroVax’s site-specific conjugation technology. The vaccine has been modified to avoid triggering an immune response that can adversely affect human cardiac or brain tissue, which had been seen with earlier vaccines. The discovery of the GAS antigen was made at the University of California at San Diego, and SutroVax has a license to the technology. Pharyngitis is prevalent in school-age children with an estimated 600 million cases of pharyngitis annually worldwide and, as a result, GAS-related infections are a major source of antibiotic prescriptions. Most of these infections are mild and treatable however increasing numbers of cases are associated with severe invasive infections, including sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) and toxic shock syndrome. Global mortality figures are not available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the United States alone, approximately 11,000 to 13,000 cases of invasive GAS disease (cellulitis with blood infection, necrotizing fasciitis, pneumonia, and toxic shock syndrome) occur each year, from which, between 1,100 and 1,600 people die. It is estimated that in low- and middle-income countries, up to 180,000 people die from RHD each year.
Vaxxilon is funded with up to $1.4 million
End of August, CARB-X also announced a funding of Vaxxilon AG of Reinach, Switzerland. This grants is up to $1.4 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $3.1 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop a multivalent vaccine to prevent infections caused by carbapenem-resistant bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae, an invasive Gram-negative superbug associated with life-threatening intensive-care and hospital-acquired infections and high mortality rates.
“Vaxxilon’s vaccine, if approved for use in patients, could prevent deadly infections and save the lives of thousands of patients in hospitals worldwide who might otherwise contract infections and die,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and Professor of Law at Boston University.
Arne von Bonin, CSO and Head of Immunology at Vaxxilon, said: “CARB-X’s award will support the development of VXN-319, a semi-synthetic conjugate vaccine targeting multiple strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae, one of the top priority critical pathogens identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). We are very excited to receive CARB-X’s support to advance this novel approach to vaccines to reduce the incidence of infection by this superbug and burden on the use of antibiotics.”
K. pneumoniae are Gram-negative bacteria commonly found in the body that can cause severe infections primarily in intensive-care and other hospitalized patients. K. pneumoniae strains have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In healthcare settings, Klebsiella infections commonly occur among patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions and whose care requires devices like ventilators (breathing machines) or intravenous (vein) catheters. Such infections are associated with high mortality, greater than 50%, according to some studies.
VXN-319 is a carbohydrate-based vaccine currently at the lead optimization stage. Vaxxilon expects it would provide protection against more than 80% of carbapenem resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae. To create the vaccine, Vaxxilon synthesizes the carbohydrates that resemble the coating which surrounds each bacterial cell. The synthetic carbohydrates are then combined with other components to create conjugate vaccines similar to those that have been approved to prevent infections from bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type B.