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Carb-X Funds Drug-Resistant Bacterial Vaccine

Klebsiella pneumoniae

Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria (CDC.gov)

20 Aug. 2019. A company developing vaccines with synthetic biology is receiving a grant for a vaccine to prevent infections from drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria. Vaxxilon AG, in Reinach, Switzerland could receive up to $4.5 million from the international Carb-X consortium for the vaccine, the first of its kind to protect against these infections.

The vaccine is expected to prevent infections from Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, becoming increasingly resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, among the most-prescribed drugs to combat infections. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a gram-negative bacteria associated with pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis, particularly in health care settings. “Gram” refers to a classification for bacteria where the microbes either retain (gram-positive) or shed (gram-negative) a test stain on their protective cell coatings.

Vaxxilon is developing a vaccine code-named VXN-319 to prevent carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae infections. The company calls VXN-319 a semi-synthetic conjugate vaccine, made from small synthesized fragments of naturally occurring carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, combined with a carrier protein. The synthetic carbohydrates are similar to the bacteria’s natural protective coating, and acts as an antigen to induce production of antibodies that protect against its infections. VXN-319 is in advanced discovery stages, being optimized for potency and chemical activity in the body, and to spot possible toxic effects.

Carb-X, short for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, is an international initiative to fight antibiotic resistance. The public-NGO consortium is made up of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Wellcome Trust, a foundation based in London, that provide the funding or in-kind services. Partnering organizations include Boston University law school where CARB-X is headquartered, as well as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, California Life Sciences Institute, AMR Centre in the U.K., and RTI International.

The grant from Carb-X provides $1.4 million to Vaxxilon to continue development of VXN-319. Should specified milestones be reached, Vaxxilon would qualify for another $3.1 million from Carb-X. “The complete Carb-X award will enable us to conduct the full preclinical development, GMP manufacturing, and a Phase I [early-stage] clinical trial for VXN-319, a semi-synthetic conjugate vaccine,” says Tom Monroe, CEO of Vaxxilon in a company statement released through Businesswire. Monroe adds that, “Vaxxilon’s novel vaccine, if approved, could prevent infections, save lives, and reduce the pressure for use of powerful antibiotics.”

Vaxxilon is a spin-off enterprise from the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Surfaces in Potsdam, Germany, licensing research on synthetic carbohydrates by Peter Seeberger, director of the institute. The company was formed in 2015 by the Max Planck Society and the Swiss biopharmaceutical maker Actelion Ltd.

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