A consortium comprising UK vaccine developer Prokarium and the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection has received a £0.4m grant from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
The money will help fund the development of Prokarium’s Vaxonella oral vaccine delivery platform as well as two vaccine candidates.
Prokarium, a spin-out from Cobra Biologics, is based in Keele, Staffordshire and London, UK and develops genetic technologies to engineer immune-cell-targeting bacteria that express vaccines from within the body, creating the next-generation of oral vaccines. The grant will allow the firm to complete preclinical work on its first pipeline product Typhetec, a dual oral vaccine against typhoid and ETEC, a major cause of diarrhoea.
In addition, it will enable the firm to start R&D on a new vaccine against Clostridium difficile, a major cause of colitis in the elderly.
Currently there are no vaccines against ETEC or C. difficile.
With this funding from the TSB and BBSRC, Prokarium and the University of Birmingham will be able to test candidates that have the potential to be developed into oral vaccines for both the developed and emerging markets.
Carl-Johan Spak, CEO of Prokarium, said: ‘This funding will not only bring us closer to creating the next generation of oral vaccines against two very important diseases, but also recognises Prokarium as an innovative synthetic biology company.’
Prof Ian Henderson, University of Birmingham added: ‘Prokarium's Vaxonella platform will revolutionise the way we protect people from infectious and non-infectious disease. I am excited by the opportunity to assist Prokarium in the development of an ETEC vaccine based on Vaxonella. Success in this important endeavour will give the gift of life to millions of children who would otherwise suffer or die from this devastating disease.’