EU Awards €5.5M to CRO, Other Developers of a New MRSA Vaccine

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

EU Awards €5.5M to CRO, Other Developers of a New MRSA Vaccine

Related tags European union Immune system

A consortium of European vaccine experts, including the Swiss CRO Preclin Biosystems, has received almost €5.5m ($7.1m) from the EU to develop a vaccine against the deadly MRSA bacteria.

The bacterium MRSA (Methicillin-resistant S. aureus) - dubbed a 'superbug' due to its resistance to antibiotics - causes hundreds of thousands of difficult-to-treat infections in humans each year and - according to Government data - is responsible for about 16,000 deaths annually in Europe and 19,000 in the US.

In addition, studies suggest that costs associated with MRSA - including both those resulting from efforts to treat infection as well as population-wide productivity losses - are around €380m a year in Europe and up to several billion dollars annually in the US.

To address this a pan-European consortium which, in addition to contract research organisation (CRO) Preclin Biosystems, includes  biotech firm Imaxio, Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and the European Vaccine Initiative, established the ‘Bellerophon Project’ to develop an MRSA vaccine.

Preclin's role in the project will be to develop the preclinical systems required to test the vaccines according to CEO Dr Bettina Ernst, who said: “We strongly believe our solid infectious models will successfully push this vaccine forward through preclinical trials up to 2015​.”

Mouse models

The project will work primarily with a recently discovered T-cell inducing antigen individually capable of eliciting protection in mouse models, according to the European Commission​ description of the award, which is part of the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.

The group will also focus on:

A secreted toxin antigen, antibodies against which reduce mortality (Hla);

An innovative, proprietary and potent pro-immunogenic series of tags (IMX313 series) which can be fused to the antigens; and

The use of viral vectors, including an innovative and proprietary adenoviral vector (ChAdOx1) and/or new ways to use viral vectors to generate protective immunity (MVA mixed with proteins).

The group aims to identify ways to perform initial first-in-human studies, as well as to identify additional antigens that might further the efficacy of this product.

The project is slated to run through August 2016.

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