News & Events
Prokarium collaboration to create thermostable vaccines
16 January 2016
Prokarium, based in the Stephenson Building on Keele University Science and Innovation Park, has recently commenced its collaboration with Probiomed to scale-up the manufacture of orally administered vaccines in a formulation that would enable stability at 40°C for several weeks. The first vaccine to be manufactured will be developed to prevent so-called ‘Montezuma’s revenge’ or diarrhoea, which affects the local population as well travellers in Mexico and many countries.
The leading bacterial causes of diarrhoea are Shigella, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) and Non-Typhoidal Salmonellosis which together account for 1 billion cases worldwide every year. When children in developing countries contract diarrhoea and it is not treated, it can cause severe dehydration and death. A vaccine could prevent bacterial diarrhoea but none is currently available. This two-year project builds on preclinical work already conducted on a diarrhoea vaccine using Prokarium’s novel oral vaccine delivery platform and combines this with Mexican Probiomed’s pharmaceutical manufacturing capability to construct, test and manufacture to clinical scale a novel oral, thermostable vaccine against diarrhoea.
Self-administered oral vaccines will significantly reduce the cost and increase the scope of vaccination, especially if they are thermostable over several weeks during the final stages of distribution. Syringe reuse causes 1.3 million deaths a year and results in over $535 million in additional healthcare costs yearly. Injections must be carried out by healthcare professionals and in combination with the need for a refrigerated supply chain, this means many people never get vaccinated.
A capsule or liquid is swallowed and passes through the stomach to the intestine where it releases safe bacteria. These have been engineered to produce vaccine from inside the body’s own immune cells – right where it is needed and where it minimises chances of side effects.
Prokarium’s CEO Ted Fjallman commented: “Prokarium’s technology avoids the need for injections with a needle and more importantly means it can be delivered to people living in remote resource-poor areas, as the vaccine is stable at high temperatures and can be manufactured for approximately one third of the price of conventional injectable vaccines. Together with Probiomed we now aim to prove we can scale-up and make enough of these vaccines to really make a difference to people worldwide.”
Probiomed’s CEO Jaime Uribe Wiechers added: “One of Probiomed’s strategic goals focuses on the company’s capitalization of its advanced manufacturing technologies; a very important step is taken by this collaboration. I’m positive that the technological background of this product, along with Prokarium’s expertise in biotechonolgy and our own, will lead to a high added value vaccine that will enhance people’s health on both continents.”
The collaboration is supported by the UK government’s Newton Fund, administered by Innovate UK, and by the Mexican government’s innovation agency CONACYT. The project is important both for Mexico’s own people and for its tourism industry. The results will be widely applicable to many different vaccines for difficult-to-target diseases worldwide.
Prokarium is a privately owned, UK-based biotechnology company with a vision to create the best platform for oral delivery of vaccines. The company’s proprietary synthetic biology platform Vaxonella® enables vaccines to be taken orally, and then to be made from inside the body’s own immune cells, triggering all arms of immunity with minimal side effects and at lower costs than injectable vaccines.
Prokarium has a dual business model: Development of in-house oral vaccines and out-licensing of its Vaxonella platform. Currently the focus is on preventing Clostridium difficile, exacerbations of COPD & asthma and developing an anti-bioterror vaccine against plague under a UK government contract. Prokarium is funded by Flerie Invest AB, it has research collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies and is currently raising a Series B investment to take its core vaccines into the clinic.
Probiomed is a privately-owned Mexican biopharmaceutical company, established 45 years ago, which employs over 950 people and has 4 manufacturing plants. Probiomed’s biosimilar drugs, including vaccines, prevent and treat serious chronic- degenerative diseases that have a high economic burden and social impact such as cancer, hepatitis, chronic renal failure, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes, among others.
On numerous occasions, Probiomed has been awarded and recognised for its commitment to research and technological innovation in Mexico. Among those are: the first National Prize for Technological Companies given in Mexico, the Pharmaceutical Industry National Chamber’s Prize for Basic Investigation and ADIAT PRIZE awarded by the Mexican Association of Directors of Applied Research and Technological Development (2005). Probiomed currently has 16 biosimilars in the market and 5 more under development.