CARB-X will donate up to $2 million to the Jenner Institute (part of the University of Oxford) to produce a vaccine that prevents gonorrhoea.
The researchers will work alongside the Oxford Vaccine Group with the aim to develop a vaccine that will create immunity against gonorrhoea and prevent individuals from developing the disease. Furthermore, it intends to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance that is found in gonococcal bacteria.
The gonorrhoea vaccine (dmGC_0817560) contains blebs (fluid-filled blisters) from the outer surface of gonococcus, which is the Native Outer Membrane Vesicles (NOMV), and if the candidate progresses through certain milestones, the institute would be eligible for up to $5.3 million more in funding.
According to CARB-X, antibiotic resistance is making treating the common sexually transmitted bacterial infection challenging, sometimes leaving the patient untreatable.
“The COVID pandemic, while horrid, isn’t the only major health threat the world faces,” a spokeswoman from CARB-X told us. “Drug resistance is a slower moving pandemic but also deadly, and society cannot afford to ignore this crisis. CARB-X was created five years ago to accelerate R&D innovation to address the global drug-resistance crisis.”
She continued: “We need effective antibiotics and we are running out. The other part of this crisis is that private industry no longer invests adequately in antibacterial research and drug development because they have been unable to recoup their investment. We need governments to step up to find solutions to the broken marketplace.”
The Jenner Institute has had recent success in developing the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Calman MacLennan, who is leading the gonorrhoea vaccine project at the Jenner Institute, told BioProcess Insider, “Application for funding was submitted in summer 2019 to CARB-X and it is just a coincidence that it has happened at the same time. COVID-19 has helped people to know about the Jenner Institute, it’s been good publicity. COVID-19 is still an ongoing focus as we deal with new variants, but we have the lab space and staff to work on the other projects.”
To serve the project, MacLennan told us it is hiring 10 people to join the team and discussed how “bacterial vaccines are a bigger challenge than viral vaccines. When dealing with bacteria, they have much larger genomes, which means viral-vectors vaccine and mRNA vaccine technologies are not as suitable.”
He continued: “We plan to work closely with the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford to make the material for the Phase I study.”