By Estel Grace Masangkay
Clinical stage biotech Pfenex announced that it has partnered with international nonprofit organization PATH in a multi-product research initiative to improve vaccine production.
As part of their agreement, Pfenex will collaborate with PATH on an initial pilot project to develop two crucial vaccine components. One is double-mutant Escherichia coli heat-labile toxin (dmLT), a potential vaccine adjuvant already being used by PATH in its enteric vaccine project together with other investigational vaccine candidates. The other vaccine component is Pfs25, a transmission-blocking malaria vaccine candidate supported by the organization’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative. The partners will leverage Pfenex’s proprietary high-expression system to speed the development of the two vaccines.
Bertrand C. Liang, Pfenex’s CEO, said, “We are both pleased and honored to partner with a globally respected organization as PATH in their mission to develop and deliver health solutions for unmet medical needs. …Pfenex's experience in the area of complex protein development and manufacture can provide innovative solutions for global health with a portfolio of antigens and adjuvants that have been difficult or impossible to express in other host systems or organisms facilitating vaccine development previously not possible.”
The pilot project is partially the result of a grant, which PATH received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Overall, the money will support the two companies as they work to establish a new vaccine development model for the two diseases plaguing developing nations.
The success of the collaboration could lead to the acceleration of both vaccines’ development and subsequent availability in higher numbers and lower costs. The pilot project could also lead to the establishment of a platform that could help speed the production of other recombinant protein vaccine antigens being developed by PATH. The organization recently revealed its contributions in the worldwide effort to stem the Ebola outbreak in Africa, which includes lending its vaccine expertise to the World Health Organization, as well as providing technical assistance in clinical trials investigating new vaccines for Ebola.