The Groningen, the Netherlands-based biotech will use the funding to progress SynGEM – its RSV vaccine candidate - into phase I and IIa clinical trials.
RSV is an infectious disease which causes severe lower respiratory tract infections - such as pneumonia - for which there is no vaccine available, but Mucosis CEO Tom Johnston said SynGEM’s potential comes from its intranasal delivery route.
“There is accumulating evidence that mucosal immunity [nasally secreted antibodies] plays a potentially equal role in the protection against RSV as systemic immunity [antibodies in the blood],” he told this publication.
“Our intranasal RSV vaccine is able to elicit both RSV-specific secreted antibodies in the airways and antibodies in the blood, while a traditional intramuscular RSV vaccine generally elicits antibodies in the blood. Hence, the intranasal delivery route takes advantage of raising this extra line of defense.”
Mucosis is not alone in developing intranasal vaccine delivery platforms. AstraZeneca had its nasal spray flu vaccine Fluenz Tetra approved in the EU in 2013, researchers at the University of Texas have been developing a nasal vaccine against Ebola.
But Johnston told us nasal vaccine development is still challenged by their ability to generate relevant amounts of antibodies in the airways and in the blood, something SynGEM, using the firm’s proprietary Mimopath platform avoids.
The platform is based on a biodegradable particle that has the same shape and size of a bacterium, which he said makes it very suitable and efficient for uptake by immune cells in the nasal mucosal lining.
“Because of that, the vaccine protein in SynGEM which is attached to the particle, is targeted very efficiently to the relevant immune cells resulting in potent immune responses,” he continued, adding, the particle material also helps to stimulate the immune response.
“Therefore, the intranasal vaccine platform has a dual action, it targets the vaccine protein to the relevant immune cells and it stimulates the immune response.”
R&D and partnerships
On top of an RSV, the Mimopath platform has also been applied in an intranasal influenza vaccine tested in a Phase I clinical trial which Johnston said resulted in generating proof-of-concept data for the technology.
And while pneumococcal and shigella vaccines are in the preclinical phase, Mucosis’s technology has also been eyed-up by potential partners in the industry, he continued.
“We continually evaluate opportunities such as partnership deals but always remain focused on the program execution and securing the necessary funds to do so - as is the case with the Wellcome Trust funding - so that we can advance the vaccine candidate thereby generating even higher value inflection points.”