CARB-X funds Vaxxilon AG to Develop a New Vaccine to Prevent Superbug Infections
The vaccine aims to prevent deadly hospital-acquired respiratory, urinary-tract, and other infections that kill thousands of patients each year.
CARB-X, a global partnership led by Boston University, is awarding Vaxxilon AG of Reinach, Switzerland, 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.
“Vaccines are vital tools in the fight against disease and drug-resistant bacteria, with the potential to prevent infections and reduce the spread of life-threatening bacteria,” said Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X and professor of law at Boston University. “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.”
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 ofKlebsiella 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 percent, 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 percent of carbapenem resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae. To create the vaccine, Vaxxilon synthesizes the carbohydrates thatr esemble 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.
New vaccines urgently needed to fight superbug crisis
Drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise worldwide and represent a threat to global public health and health security. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections. In the United States, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections. In Europe, the number of deaths yearly is estimated at 33,000.
Partnership driving antibacterial innovation globally
The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest antibacterial development portfolio with 29 active projects in five countries. Since its inception in 2016, CARB-X has announced awards for 46 projects in seven countries exceeding $135 million, with the possibility of additional funds if project milestones are met, to accelerate the development of antibacterial products. These funds are in addition to investments made by the companies themselves. As well as funding, CARB-X provides business and scientific support for projects through the CARB-X Global Accelerator Network, a network of nine expert organizations around the world. The CARB-X pipeline will continuously evolve, as projects progress or fail.
CARB-X is investing up to US$500 million in antibacterial R&D between 2016 and 2021 to support the development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other products. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development through Phase 1, so that they will attract additional support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients. The scope of CARB-X funding is restricted to projects that target drug-resistant bacteria highlighted on the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2013 Antibiotic Resistant Threats list, or the Priority Bacterial Pathogens list published by the WHO in 2017—with a priority on those pathogens deemed Serious or Urgent on the CDC list or Critical or High on the WHO list.
CARB-X is led by Boston University and funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (UK GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). CARB-X is headquartered in the Boston University School of Law.
This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number DSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by an award from Wellcome Trust. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Wellcome Trust, or other CARB-X funders.