SynbiCITE funds Prokarium to complete pre-clinical development
Keele and London, UK, 3rd August 2015: Prokarium Ltd, a biotechnology company developing transformational oral vaccines, today announced new funding from SynbiCITE, the UK's Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology. The £498k project is funded at £377k from SynbiCITE and £121k from Prokarium and will enable Prokarium and its collaborator Prof Robin Shattock of Imperial College to complete the pre-clinical development of an innovative Chlamydia vaccine which could enter clinical trials in 2017.
With 92 million new cases of Chlamydia worldwide and over 200,000 new cases in the UK per year, Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Symptoms can be serious including pelvic inflammatory disease that can lead to infertility and, in children infected by their mothers, even blindness.
According to Dr Ted Fjällman, CEO of Prokarium, "the new vaccine uses synthetic biology to make the first safe and effective Chlamydia vaccine since the 1960s when conventional methods revealed unacceptable side effects and clinical efforts were abandoned. We have produced a carrier in the form of a re-engineered strain of Salmonella containing the blueprint for the vaccine. It will be taken orally and as it enters through the person's gut lining it is naturally engulfed by the body's own immune cells and only then triggered to produce the active vaccine exactly where it is needed and without side effects in other parts of the body. This is a uniquely suitable solution and has already raised interest from big pharmaceutical companies."
Dr Steve Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE, explained that the new Prokarium vaccine was selected for funding because "the need for a Chlamydia vaccine is significant and the potential for this approach both for Chlamydia and as a model for treating other infections in the medium-term is very encouraging."
A National Chlamydia Screening Programme report1 shows NHS spending of £45 per person on screening for Chlamydia and it is expected that a mass vaccination programme for 10-14 year olds would cost significantly less.
Dr Steve Chatfield, Chairman of Prokarium and former Executive Director of the UK Health Protection Agency, says: "This SynbiCITE funding allows us to test a vaccine against one of the world's most serious sexually transmitted infections. This endeavour, amongst others, has also enabled us to attract Dr Allan Jarvis, former Vice President of Corporate Development of Sanofi Pasteur to Prokarium's Board of Directors. Prokarium is now well set up to work with the best of the best in the vaccine arena."
1. Guidance for the commissioners on the cost of providing chlamydia screening in primary care and the community: a review of costs in practice across England in 2009. Prepared by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme, December 2009
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Prokarium is a privately owned biotechnology company with a vision to create the best platform for oral delivery of vaccines. The company's proprietary synthetic biology platform Vaxonella enables vaccines to be made from inside the body's own immune cells, triggering all arms of immunity with little or no side effects and at lower costs than injectable vaccines.
Prokarium has a dual business model: Development of in-house oral vaccines and out-licensing of its Vaxonella oral vaccine delivery platform. Currently the focus is on Chlamydia, Clostridium difficile and a dual diarrhoea and typhoid vaccine. Prokarium is funded by Flerie Invest AB, it has a research collaboration with big pharma on C.difficile and is currently seeking further investment to take one or more of its candidate vaccines into the clinic.
SynbiCITE is a pioneering Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) dedicated to promoting the adoption and use of synthetic biology by industry. The IKC is an internationally recognised lead centre in industrialising synthetic biology research giving the UK a globally renowned national resource of interacting partners from across the UK's leading academic institutions, industry and business.
SynbiCITE is focused at Imperial College London and is, with our partners, accelerating the commercialisation of world-class science and the emerging technologies encompassed by synthetic biology into new products, tools, processes and services. Our overall aim is to grow UK industry in the sector and improve synthetic biology, using industry to achieve significant economic impact, generate wealth for the companies, generate skilled workers and create jobs.