The new product uses synthetic biology to make the first safe and effective Chlamydia vaccine since the 1960s
Prokarium, a UK biotechnology company developing oral vaccines, has received new funding from SynbiCITE, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology to further the development of a vaccine for Chlamydia.
The £498,000 project is funded by £377,000 from SynbiCITE and £121,000 from Prokarium and will enable Prokarium and its collaborator Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College, London to complete the pre-clinical development of a Chlamydia vaccine that could enter clinical trials in 2017.
With 92 million new cases of Chlamydia worldwide and more than 200,000 new cases in the UK each year, Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Symptoms can be serious including pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to infertility and, in children infected by their mothers, blindness.
Dr Ted Fjällman, CEO of Prokarium, said the new vaccine uses synthetic biology to make the first safe and effective Chlamydia vaccine since the 1960s when conventional methods revealed unacceptable side effects and clinical efforts were abandoned.
The need for a Chlamydia vaccine is significant
'We have produced a carrier in the form of a re-engineered strain of Salmonella containing the blueprint for the vaccine. It will be taken orally and as it enters through the gut lining it is naturally engulfed by the body’s own immune cells and only then triggered to produce the active vaccine exactly where it is needed and without side effects in other parts of the body. This is a uniquely suitable solution and has already raised interest from big pharmaceutical companies,' he said.
Dr Steve Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, said the new Prokarium vaccine was selected for funding because 'the need for a Chlamydia vaccine is significant and the potential for this approach both for Chlamydia and as a model for treating other infections in the medium-term is very encouraging.'
Dr Steve Chatfield, Chairman of Prokarium and former Executive Director of the UK Health Protection Agency, said: 'This SynbiCITE funding allows us to test a vaccine against the one of the world’s most serious sexually transmitted infections. This endeavour, amongst others, has also enabled us to attract Dr Allan Jarvis, former Vice President of Corporate Development of Sanofi Pasteur to Prokarium’s Board of Directors. Prokarium is now well set up to work with the best of the best in the vaccine arena.'