January 2009

In this issue:

 

Welcome to the latest edition of Vaccines for the Future. The new year marks exciting progress for our program, most notably the inaugural partnership for our project working to develop vaccines again pandemic influenza. In addition, we have formed several new collaborations to explore innovative approaches to developing pneumococcal and diarrheal disease vaccines. Our staff members also continue to actively participate in a variety of meetings and discussions with key stakeholders around the world on vaccine development and to work with partners to address global health concerns.

Additionally, we highlight several new PATH resources on diarrheal disease, including the launch of a new website, Resources for Diarrheal Disease Control, which provides key information on specific interventions to prevent and treat diarrhea, as well as new print materials. We hope you continue to find our updates useful, and we welcome your feedback.

 

Sincerely,

John W. Boslego, MD

Director, Vaccine Development Program

PATH

 

PATH announces new partnership to develop pandemic influenza vaccine candidate

PATH’s influenza vaccine project and Lentigen Corporation, a Maryland-based biotechnology company, formed a new partnership to accelerate research on a pandemic influenza vaccine. PATH will support early-stage development of Lentigen’s H5N1 virus-like particle (VLP) prototype pandemic influenza vaccine candidate. VLPs are self-assembling particles that can be made in cell culture, avoiding the need to rely on limited egg supplies for vaccine production—supplies which may be compromised during a potential avian influenza outbreak. Vaccines based on VLPs can overcome many of the limitations of traditional influenza vaccines by offering highly immunogenic, strain-specific recombinant antigens that can be produced economically and at large scale. This versatile and economic technology could potentially be transferred to manufacturers in multiple locations to achieve PATH’s goal of developing a pandemic influenza vaccine to meet the needs of people in low-resource countries.

 

New vaccine development partnerships to help prevent diarrheal diseases

PATH’s enteric vaccine project recently signed two new partnership agreements to develop vaccines against the leading bacterial causes of diarrheal disease, Shigella and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC). PATH is supporting work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to conduct early-stage clinical trials of the CVD1208S vaccine candidate against Shigella. This live attenuated, oral vaccine candidate is ultimately envisioned to be a multivalent vaccine designed to prevent illness resulting from five common disease-causing strains of the Shigella bacteria. PATH is also partnering with the University of Gothenburg in Sweden to evaluate an inactivated whole cell ETEC vaccine candidate, SBL 109. PATH will support both preclinical studies and proof-of-concept studies in humans to test for improved immunogenicity of SBL 109 compared to an earlier whole cell ETEC vaccine candidate.

 

New collaborations to develop vaccines against childhood pneumonia

PATH’s pneumococcal vaccine project recently formed two new vaccine development partnerships. PATH and Dutch biotechnology company Mucosis are collaborating on a multivalent protein vaccine candidate. The partnership will further Mucosis’ preclinical research of their intranasal GEM-based protein vaccine through evaluation of the immunization route and optimization of antigens for potential protection in animal models. PATH also entered into an agreement with the University of Adelaide in South Australia, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee to support preclinical immunogenicity studies of three pneumococcal protein antigens to be used in a multivalent protein vaccine candidate. Protein-based vaccines are a promising approach because certain proteins are common to all pneumococcus types and may provide broad serotype-independent protection.

 

PATH presents at World Health Organization meeting on enteric vaccines

Four staff members from PATH’s vaccine development program participated in the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s Diarrhoeal and Enteric Vaccines Advisory Committee (DEVAC) in Geneva, Switzerland, in October 2008. Drs. A. Louis Bourgeois, Kathy Neuzil, Duncan Steele, and Georges Thiry of PATH provided presentations and moderated meeting sessions on a variety of topics including: the status of current rotavirus vaccine clinical trials; an update on research around new rotavirus vaccines; mucosal immunology and studies of immune responses against enteric agents; bacterial enteric vaccines and the scope of PATH’s enteric vaccine project; and upcoming strategic meetings related to diarrheal and enteric vaccines. DEVAC, a 12-member group of experts, aims to review studies on enteric vaccines and related epidemiology while maintaining an independent role in global leadership and coordinating activities with partner agencies working in this field. Drs. Neuzil and Steele are DEVAC members, and Drs. Bourgeois and Thiry were invited to participate in the meeting as technical experts.

 

Maryland biotechnology event features PATH’s vaccine development work

Dr. John Boslego, director of PATH’s vaccine development program, recently joined a panel presentation on “Global Health Initiatives” hosted by MdBio, an industry organization that works to unify and advance the bioscience industry in Maryland. The event, held on January 16, also included presentations by Wendy Taylor of BioVentures for Global Health and Meera Narayanswamy of the International Finance Corporation. The panelists shared their perspectives on how each organization works with private- and public-sector partners to address urgent global health issues. The event was attended by more than 70 Maryland-based biotechnology professionals and representatives from government and academia.

 

PATH to participate in international meeting on the evaluation of pandemic influenza vaccines

Drs. John Boslego, Kathy Neuzil, and Rick Bright of PATH’s influenza vaccine project will participate in a February meeting sponsored by the World Health Organization on the evaluation of pandemic influenza prototype vaccines in clinical trials. The meeting will bring together vaccine developers and other key stakeholders from around the world to discuss clinical progress in pandemic influenza vaccine development. Participants will also have an opportunity to discuss overarching issues related to pandemic influenza vaccines, such as assessing immunogenicity and determining regulatory pathways.

 

New website on diarrheal disease control

PATH is pleased to announce the launch of a new website, Resources for Diarrheal Disease Control. This resource-rich site provides tools that advocates and practitioners alike can use in spreading the word about the deadly toll of diarrheal disease and the solutions to stop it. In addition to established interventions that include oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding, and hygiene, new tools like zinc and diarrhea vaccines bring new opportunities to re-invigorate interest and catalyze investments to address the second leading cause of child death in the world today. Presented in partnership with UNICEF, the website includes key documents and links to information on these simple, lifesaving interventions, as well as highlights of in-country programs that are putting them in the hands of mothers and caregivers.

 

Upcoming conferences and events

·         World Vaccine Congress 2009, Washington, DC, April 20 to 23, 2009. This conference, the world’s largest vaccine industry event, brings together major vaccine players to discuss issues affecting this sector. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with more than 120 speakers and learn about investments in vaccines, partnerships for vaccine development, regulatory pathways to vaccine approval, and much more. Dr. John Boslego, director of PATH’s vaccine development program, will present on global health initiatives and industry partnerships, as well as advancing vaccine development for developing markets.

·         The Twelfth Annual Conference on Vaccine Research, Baltimore, MD, April 27 to 29, 2009. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases presents its annual conference on vaccine research, providing high-quality reports of scientific progress devoted exclusively to research on vaccines and associated immunization technologies for disease prevention and treatment. Presentation topics will include global health and programs of the World Health Organization, synergies between veterinary and human vaccine discovery, the status of malaria vaccine development, and an update on a tuberculosis vaccine.

·         Influenza Vaccines for the World 2009, Cannes, France, April 27 to 30, 2009. This conference will address key topics on seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines, including novel vaccine developments, formulation, manufacturing, pandemic preparedness, financial issues surrounding influenza vaccination, and licensing of new influenza vaccines. Attendees will hear from world-renowned experts on the latest data and trends associated with influenza vaccines and their availability worldwide.

 

New PATH resources

Developing New Vaccines Against Rotavirus fact sheet (PDF)

Protecting Young Children From Diarrheal Disease fact sheet

Directions in Global Health: Protecting Young Children From Diarrheal Disease

 

View past issues of Vaccines for the Future

 

PATH’s vaccine development program is working to accelerate the development of innovative, safe, effective, and affordable vaccines against the leading causes of childhood deaths in the developing world, pneumonia (pneumococcal disease) and diarrheal disease (rotavirus, Shigella, and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli), as well as new influenza vaccines for the global population. PATH is also partnering on vaccine development through its Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Meningitis Vaccine Program. Additionally, PATH works to ensure the worldwide availability of vaccines through its Immunization Solutions program. The work of the vaccine development program is currently supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Learn more about PATH’s work

PATH is now sending periodic email updates highlighting programmatic activities from throughout the organization. Find out what we’re working on, where we’ll be presenting our work, and what new publications and tools are available. Sign up for PATH’s email updates.