Accelerating the advancement of vaccines against pneumococcal disease
PATH is collaborating with private- and public-sector partners to speed the development of vaccines against pneumococcal disease that can be affordable and accessible to the developing world. In the global fight against pneumococcal disease, we coordinate with manufacturers, national governments, universities, and research institutions, as well as international bodies such as the World Health Organization, the GAVI Alliance, the Pneumoccocal Awareness Council of Experts, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Developing new pneumococcal vaccines
Our vaccine development portfolio includes projects to advance new common protein vaccines, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, and whole cell vaccines.
Common protein vaccines for broad protection
The development of a vaccine containing proteins common to all 90+ pneumococcus serotypes could provide broad protection to children worldwide. To advance this technology, PATH is working with a number of partners on a diverse portfolio to increase the chance of success.
One such partnership includes our work with the Austrian biotech company Intercell AG, which has advanced a multivalent, protein-based pneumococcal vaccine candidate from preclinical research into early-stage clinical trials.
Another alliance is with biotech firm Genocea Biosciences of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Children’s Hospital Boston to screen for T-cell antigens that have the potential to be the basis for novel vaccine candidates.
We are also collaborating with Mucosis, a biotech firm based in the Netherlands, on preclinical research to advance the development of a multivalent protein vaccine candidate that may be delivered intranasally.
In another partnership, PATH is working with the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom to develop protein-based pneumococcal vaccines using novel adjuvant technology.
We have, additionally, joined forces with a consortium consisting of the University of Adelaide of Australia, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee to support preclinical studies of three pneumococcal protein antigens to be used in a multivalent protein vaccine candidate.
Inactivated whole cell vaccines
PATH, Children’s Hospital Boston, and Brazil’s Instituto Butantan are collaborating to optimize and standardize a safe, inactivated whole cell vaccine candidate against pneumococcal bacteria for Phase 1 clinical trials. If successful, it would provide broad protection for children throughout the developing world and would be inexpensive to produce and administer.
Low-cost pneumococcal conjugate vaccines
Current pneumococcal conjugate vaccines approved for use in children are effective against strains included in the vaccines, but they do not cover all pneumococcal serotypes. They are also complicated and relatively expensive to manufacture, making it difficult for poorer countries to access vaccine without assistance. While the GAVI Alliance is funding the introduction of current pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in low-income countries, new vaccines are needed to focus protection and achieve intrinsic affordability for the developing world.
PATH is collaborating separately with the Serum Institute of India Ltd. and the China National Biotec Group’s Chengdu Institute of Biological Products to speed the development of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines that focus mainly on serotypes prevalent in low-resource countries and that can be affordable for the developing world. The approach combines proven conjugation methods with new innovations for rapid and cost-effective vaccine development.
Innovative protein-plus-conjugate vaccines
Pneumococcal vaccines that combine protein and conjugate technologies could lead to broad coverage across the numerous pneumococcal serotypes. PATH is collaborating with GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA (GSK), the Medical Research Council in The Gambia, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to conduct studies in The Gambia in support of advancing GSK’s protein-plus-conjugate vaccine candidate.
Enhancing pneumococcal research
In addition to supporting the development of innovative vaccine candidates, PATH is also supporting research to meet general needs within the field of pneumococcal vaccine research. Research needs across the field include cataloging pneumococcal strain collections, identifying models or assays for use in preclinical testing of potential vaccines, defining burden of illness of pneumococcal disease in various geographic locations, improving diagnostic tools, and identifying production processes so that vaccines are affordable for distribution by public health systems in low-income countries. The following project examples are illustrative of our efforts to advance the field of pneumococcal vaccine research. For information about all of our pneumococcal research partnerships, please see our Developing new vaccines against pneumonia information sheet.
Developing-world pneumococcal strain banks
Access to the diverse pneumococcal strains prevalent in the developing world is needed to ensure that new vaccines can protect populations in these regions. PATH has responded by forming a consortium to establish a library of representative strains from these low-resource country settings. Joining PATH in the consortium are Emory University, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The partners are focusing efforts on strains that have recently caused the most disease among children in the developing world.
Preclinical disease models
Many protein vaccine candidates against pneumococcal disease are under development, some with more potential for success than others. To help identify the most promising candidates, PATH has formed a consortium with Landspitali University Hospital, the University of Adelaide, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The alliance will establish core facilities for preclinical disease modeling and will allow researchers to compare strategies and accelerate development of pneumococcal vaccine technologies that could lead to human clinical trials. The models developed through this collaboration could eventually pay off by predicting success in human studies.
New genome data on developing-world pneumococcal strains
Data from a PATH-sponsored study on sequencing the genomes of five geographically diverse Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates are now available through GenBank. PATH partner the J. Craig Venter Institute (formerly The Institute for Genome Research) performed the sequencing, which involved an analysis of clinically important strains from Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Hungary, and Taiwan. Included in these strains were serotypes 1 and 5, which are more prevalent in low-resource countries than in industrialized nations. The project has since moved to the Institute for Genome Sciences of the University of Maryland.
Today, the data provide valuable information for comparing the genomic sequences between developing- and industrialized-world pneumococcal isolates. It also helps with the prioritization of protein vaccine candidates whose sequences are shared across a broad selection of global strains. For more information about the sequencing project and the data generated, please visit the Streptococcus Pneumoniae Comparative System.