It kills about 1.5 million people every year - more than TB, HIV and malaria combined. And current vaccines target only a handful of the approximately 97 variants of the bacteria behind it.
Now Babraham Research Campus-based ImmBio is taking the fight back to pneumococcal disease by developing a next generation vaccine.
The company has this week announced a multi-million pound milestone and royalty payment agreement with China’s largest vaccine producer, CNBG, to co-develop its PnuBioVax vaccine.
Under the licensing deal, signed with CNBG subsidiary LIBP (Lanzhou Institute of Biological Product), the proprietary will be developed and launched in Greater China following the completion of successful studies.
The arrangement also represents a strategic alliance for ImmBio, giving it access to CNBG’s technical and manufacturing capabilities that could help it commercialise the vaccine around the world.
Dr Enrique Tabares, CEO of ImmBio, said: “We are excited to be working with such a prestigious organisation as CNBG and the value this partnership will bring to the development of the universal pneumococcal vaccine, PnuBioVax.”
Pneumococcal disease is caused by the pathogenic bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.
It can commonly result in mild infections but can also lead to serious, life threatening illness, including pneumonia, septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitism and is a major source of morbidity in high risk groups and the elderly.
In the UK, babies, adults aged 65 or over and children and adults with long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition, are given vaccinations.
But existing vaccines are only effective against the 10-23 variants, or serotypes, that they target and there is evidence that they also have lost efficacy over time due to replacement and higher incidence of non-vaccine serotypes.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that pneumococcal bacteria are resistant to one or more antibiotics in 30 per cent of cases.
ImmBio’s PnuBioVax vaccine aims to be the first vaccine targeting all S. pneumoniae variants, and offers the potential to tackle the antibiotic resistance problem at its source.
Dr Zhang Yuntao, vice president of CNBG, said: “This reciprocal partnership will provide a more effective and convenient solution to the broad protection of pneumococcal related disease.”
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