Intercell AG: Lucia Malfent, +43-1-20620-303, LMalfent@intercell.com
PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative: Preeti Singh, +1 301-652-1558, Psingh@burnesscommunications.com
Vienna and Seattle, January 16, 2008—Intercell AG (VSE, "ICLL") and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative announce a new collaboration to evaluate Intercell's novel proprietary adjuvant IC31® in combination with recombinant malaria antigens from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The work will be performed at Intercell and funded by PATH. The aim of these studies is to demonstrate whether or not IC31®, in combination with NIH's antigens, triggers an immune response when evaluated in animals. First results of the studies are expected by the end of 2008.
"The development of a malaria vaccine is a great challenge and needs the combination of the best vaccine components available today," explains Intercell's Chief Scientific Officer Alexander von Gabain. "The diversity, complexity, and different life stages of the malaria parasite require an optimal choice of antigens and adjuvants in order to deliver a protective vaccine. Our partner provides not only excellent and validated antigens, but also a long-standing track record in the malaria arena. Thus, we believe that it’s a great step forward to develop a malaria vaccine containing our proprietary adjuvant IC31®, which has been shown to facilitate the induction of specific antibodies, but also a strong T-cell response, a feature needed to protect against an intracellular pathogen, such as plasmodia. We are looking forward to a fruitful and successful partnership!"
"The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative is very excited about the possibilities that this opportunity presents for the field, as adjuvants have been identified as a critical gap in the development of a malaria vaccine by donors and international agencies," said Christian Loucq, MD, director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. "Any time that we are able to find and evaluate novel adjuvants that can be applied to malaria vaccine development, we take another step toward our goal of developing a safe and effective vaccine for children in Africa and toward the long-term goal of eradicating malaria."
Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases and an enormous public health problem. Malaria causes about 400–900 million cases of fever and approximately one to three million deaths annually—this represents at least one death every 30 seconds. Malaria is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. The resulting disease in humans can be devastating. After spreading rapidly through the bloodstream to the liver, the parasite emerges again into the blood stream, to settle finally in the red blood cells, where it multiplies and emerges in bursts of new organisms. These parasites, because of their large numbers, can cause particular damage to the nervous system, liver, and kidneys.
In young children and adults who have not recently been infected (and therefore have not developed natural immunity), this cycle can result in death within hours from cerebral malaria. Others die later in the infection from overwhelming anemia or liver and kidney failure. Untreated, up to 20% of persons infected with malaria will die.
Malaria is not just a disease commonly associated with poverty, but is also a cause of poverty and a major hindrance to economic development. The disease has been associated with major negative economic effects on regions where it is widespread. In its entirety, the economic impact of malaria has been estimated to cost Africa $12 billion USD every year. The economic impact includes costs of health care, working days lost due to sickness, days lost in education, decreased productivity due to brain damage from cerebral malaria, and loss of investment and tourism. In some countries with a heavy malaria burden, the disease may account for as much as 40% of public health expenditure, 30–50% of inpatient admissions, and up to 50% of outpatient visits.
Adjuvants enhance the effectiveness of vaccines. Existing adjuvants on the market induce antibodies but little or no T-cell immunity.
IC31® is an adjuvant inducing both T-cell and B-cell responses with a unique synthetic formulation which combines the immunostimulating properties of an antimicrobial peptide, KLK, and an immunostimulatory oligodeoxynucleotide, ODN1a. The two-component solution can be simply mixed with antigens; no conjugation is required. Intercell currently has IC31® collaborations with a number of global vaccine companies, as well as small biotechs. IC31® has also been partnered with Novartis and Wyeth for the development of several new vaccines against infectious diseases.
The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) is a global program established in 1999 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative’s mission is to accelerate the development of promising vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world. For more information, visit www.malariavaccine.org.
PATH is an international, nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health. By collaborating with diverse public- and private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and act. PATH’s work improves global health and well-being. For more information, visit www.path.org.
Intercell AG is a growing biotechnology company which focuses on the design and development of novel vaccines for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases with substantial unmet medical need. The company develops antigens and adjuvants which are derived from its proprietary technology platforms, and has in-house GMP manufacturing capabilities. Based on these technologies, Intercell has strategic partnerships with a number of global pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, Merck & Co., Inc., Wyeth, sanofi pasteur, Kirin, and the Statens Serum Institut. The company’s leading product, a prophylactic vaccine against Japanese encephalitis, successfully concluded pivotal Phase III clinical trials in 2006. The regulatory process toward a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been initiated. The broad development pipeline includes a Pseudomonas vaccine in Phase II, a therapeutic vaccine for Hepatitis C in Phase II, partnered vaccines for tuberculosis (Phase I) and Staphylococcus aureus (Phase II), and five products focused on infectious diseases in preclinical development.
Intercell is listed on the Vienna stock exchange under the symbol "ICLL".