13TSB_SynBio: Engineering immune-cell-targeting bacteria to express vaccines from within the body

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Immunity and Infection

Abstract

Typhoid is responsible for 22 million cases and 200,000 deaths annually, while ETEC is responsible for 300,000 - 500,000 deaths pa. In 2011, the HPA reported 18,000 cases of infection and 2,000 deaths in the UK. In other parts of the world, the incidence is much higher, mainly due to the emergence of highly toxigenic, antibiotic resistant strains. C. difficile infection causes ~3 million cases of diarrhoea and colitis annually in the USA. Over 80% of C. difficile infections in the UK are in people over 65. Thus, oral vaccination offers a convenient, preventative measure for the ageing population, and is currently no vaccine for C. difficile.

Repeated ETEC infection causes malnutrition, growth stunting and cognitive deficits in children in developing countries. In adults, including travellers, diarrhoea can result in gastrointestinal disorders, reactive arthritis and even severe and debilitating inflammatory bowel disease. There are currently no vaccines approved for ETEC, although the cholera vaccine Dukoral has some cross-reactivity and very limited ETEC strain coverage. Prokarium's Typhetec vaccine promises to cover 100% of the known strains of ETEC. There are currently two types of typhoid vaccines; the injectable Vi vaccine and the oral live attenuated vaccine Vivotif. Based on likely having fewer side effects, lower costs and being orally deliverable, we estimate that Typhetec could initially capture at least 20% of the typhoid travellers market.

Vaxonella is a synthetic biology platform that utilises a suite of advanced genetic technologies to re-engineer Salmonella from a pathogen to a precise, rationally designed live bacterial delivery and expression platform. Vaxonella bacteria specifically target the immune cells of the gut, and once engulfed, express their recombinant protein vaccine in a controlled manner. It promises to make many recombinant protein vaccines orally deliverable, while eliminating downstream protein purification and with that the majority of development costs.

Technical Summary

Typhoid is responsible for 22 million cases and 200,000 deaths annually, while ETEC is responsible for 500,000 deaths pa. In 2011, the HPA reported 18,000 cases of infection and 2,000 deaths in the UK. In other parts of the world, the incidence is much higher, due to the emergence of highly toxigenic, antibiotic resistant strains. C. difficile infection causes ~3 million cases of diarrhoea and colitis annually in the USA. Over 80% of C. difficile infections in the UK are in people over 65. Thus, oral vaccination offers a convenient, preventative measure for the ageing population, and is currently no vaccine for C. difficile.

Repeated ETEC infection causes malnutrition, growth stunting and cognitive deficits in children in developing countries. In adults, including travellers, diarrhoea can result in gastrointestinal disorders, reactive arthritis and even severe inflammatory bowel disease. There are currently no vaccines approved for ETEC, although the cholera vaccine Dukoral has some cross-reactivity and very limited ETEC strain coverage. Prokarium's Typhetec vaccine promises to cover 100% of the known strains of ETEC. There are currently two types of typhoid vaccines; the injectable Vi vaccine and the oral live attenuated vaccine Vivotif. Based on likely having fewer side effects, lower costs and being orally deliverable, we estimate that Typhetec could initially capture at least 20% of the typhoid travellers market.

Vaxonella is a synthetic biology platform that utilises a suite of advanced genetic technologies to re-engineer Salmonella from a pathogen to a precise, rationally designed live bacterial delivery and expression platform. Vaxonella bacteria specifically target the immune cells of the gut, and once engulfed, express their recombinant protein vaccine in a controlled manner. It promises to make many recombinant protein vaccines orally deliverable, while eliminating downstream protein purification and with that the majority of development costs.

Planned Impact

Exploitation requires the development of the vaccines (the goal of this project) and their exemplification in clinical trials, which has the dual role of furthering their development, and making the Vaxonella synthetic biology platform more attractive to potential collaborators and licensees. Prokarium has commissioned a clinical trials specialist (with considerable experience in ETEC vaccine development) to prepare the clinical trials plan, starting with an Investigators' Brochure. This will allow Prokarium to accurately predict and plan for every future stage in vaccine development through to completion of Phase 1a and 1b trials (see Appendix A), following on from the work described in this project. This vital planning stage is often left to the last minute by biotechnology companies, causing them to underestimate the time and resources necessary to take a vaccine candidate to market. Preparing a clear and well-researched business plan is also important to attract institutional investors.

The twelve patent families give Prokarium excellent protection for its Vaxonella platform. This will be further strengthened by future patent filings covering the proprietary antigen gene fusion sequences. Beyond the lifetime of the patents, the bacterial vectors will remain Prokarium's intellectual property and attempts to create a biosimilar would require genetically engineering a wild-type S. Typhi (an ACDP Hazard Group 3 pathogen) and would therefore be prohibitive - a biosimilar version would probably be impossible to create, considering the difficulties involved in generating simple antibody biosimilars.
 
Description development of vaccine delivery system
Exploitation Route currently being developed by partner company
Sectors Creative Economy,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description currently being developed by partner company
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Industrial ITN
Amount £850,000 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2013 
End 01/2017
 
Title Recombinant protein production 
Description Filed patent covering exploitation of this research for recombinant protein production 
IP Reference US7470523 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed No
Impact This teachnology has been made freely available to the community. It is currently being trialed in industry