CARB-X is funding Spanish biotech Vaxdyn to develop a new vaccine to prevent superbug infections that cause life-threatening pneumonia and other deadly infections
Vaxdyn’s new vaccine against Gram-negative pathogens, if approved, would help curb the rising threat of drug resistant bacteria
CARB-X is awarding Vaxdyn, based in Seville, Spain, up to US$892,000, plus an additional $6.36 million if certain project milestones are met, to develop a new vaccine to prevent life-threatening drug-resistant infections, including pneumonia. Vaxdyn is the first Spanish biotech to be funded by CARB-X, a non-profit partnership investing $500 million in the development of innovative vaccines, antibiotics and rapid diagnostics to fight drug-resistant bacteria around the world.
“The threat of drug-resistance underscores the importance of vaccines as powerful weapons to prevent disease as well as the spread of deadly bacteria”, said Erin Duffy, Chief of Research and Development of CARB-X, which is based at Boston University School of Law. “The Vaxdyn project is in the early phases of development, but if successful and approved for use in patients, it could prevent drug-resistant pneumonia in patients with elevated risk, for example those with chronic lung disease or diabetes, or patients undergoing cancer treatment. This vaccine would also have the potential to prevent infections in newborns by stimulating maternal immunity in pregnant women, an issue of critical importance particularly in low-to-middle income countries around the world”.
Vaxdyn is using its proprietary technology to develop multi-antigen vaccines based on detoxified bacterial cells that present key antigens in their native conformation. KapaVax, the Vaxdyn project funded by CARB-X, is under development as a prophylactic vaccine for the prevention of infections caused by drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens including Acinetobacter baumannii, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in multiple at-risk populations. These three bacterial pathogens are deemed serious public health threats. Vaxdyn is working with its key partners, the National Center of Microbiology of the Spanish Institute of Health Carlos III and Laboratorios Reig Jofré.
Vaxdyn’s CEO, Juan J. Infante, said: “In this project, we are determined to develop a vaccine that will prevent life-threatening infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria, providing safe and effective immunity to patients at risk and populations around the world”.
An estimated 700,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections, and the death toll is expected to rise unless new preventatives and treatments are found. Pneumonia can be caused by many types of bacteria, including drug-resistant bacteria. Pneumonia is one of the world’s leading cause of death which disproportionately affects the young, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. There were an estimated 880,000 deaths from pneumonia in children under the age of five in 2016. Most were less than 2 years of age. Many of these lives could be saved with vaccines.
New drugs urgently needed to address the global superbug crisis
CARB-X is a consortium led by Boston University and funded by a global partnership. Funding for the Vaxdyn project is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Government’s Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds are allocated to the development of vaccines and novel biologics to avert drug-resistant diseases and protect the lives of children and infants, especially in low- and middle-incomes countries (LMICs). GAMRIF funding focuses on innovative research and development in the field of AMR, specifically in neglected and underinvested areas for LMICs.
There is a high prevalence of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections, particularly those caused by A. baumanni, P. aeruginosa, and K. pneumoniae in LMICs. Vaxdyn plans to test whether the vaccine is able to confer protection against strains of these bacteria isolated from LMICs. In later stages of development, Vaxdyn also intends to test efficacy and safety for specific needs in LMICs, including its potential to protect the health of newborns by vaccinating pregnant mothers.
The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest and most diverse antibacterial development portfolio with 44 active projects – antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics and other life-saving products - in six countries focused on addressing the global rise of drug-resistant bacteria. With the Vaxdyn project, the CARB-X portfolio now has four vaccines. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development - through Phase 1 for therapeutics - so that they will attract additional private or public support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients.
Since its launch in 2016, CARB-X has announced 66 awards exceeding $240 million, with the potential 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. The CARB-X pipeline will continuously evolve, as projects progress and others fail for a variety of reasons.
This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by awards from Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 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, or other CARB-X funders.