Imaxio together with its partners from the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, the European Vaccine Initiative and Preclin Biosystems, has announced a European Union award of EUR 5.5 million to support the ‘Bellerophon Project’ consortium to develop a vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus).
The EUR 5.5 million funding will be used to complete pre-clinical tests as well as a Phase I clinical trial in humans in 2016.
The Bellerophon Project forms part of the 2012-2013 edition of the Seventh Framework Programme initiated by the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (FP7).
The bacterium S. aureus causes a range of serious infections in humans. It is responsible for approximately 16,000 deaths annually in Europe and 19,000 in the US.
Additional studies suggest at least EUR 380 million annual European costs attributable to S. aureus, as well as several billion USD per annum in the US.
The emergence of highly antibiotic resistant S. aureus strains, such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant S. aureus), is creating a serious public health threat around the world and an increasing economic burden.
There continues to be a high unmet medical need as recent vaccine candidates have not proven effective in large human clinical studies.
The pan-European Bellerophon Project is comprised of four European institutions involved in vaccine development, each contributing specialist expertise and technology. It includes Imaxio, a French biotech company focused in immunology, which has coordinated the grant application, and the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, UK, an academic institution with key expertise on S. aureus antigens and viral vector delivery systems, which will coordinate the overall project.
The consortium also includes the European Vaccine Initiative, a non-for-profit organization based in Germany specialized in vaccine development programs and coordination of European institutions.
The fourth member is Preclin Biosystems, a Swiss contract research organization that has a strong expertise in preclinical efficacy models for infectious diseases.
“We are proud that the European Commission has chosen to support the Bellerophon Project and provide funding which will enable the consortium to progress our promising technologies and to conduct a phase I clinical trial,” said Alexandre Le Vert, chief executive officer of Imaxio.
Vert continued, “This reinforces the confidence we have in our proprietary pro-immunogenic technology, IMX313, which has been evaluated as part of this application.”
“We are very enthusiastic about the Bellerophon Project and are pleased to have the opportunity to contribute the Institute’s expertise in viral vector delivery systems and protective S. aureus antigens to consortium efforts to prevent S. aureus infections,” said Dr. David Wyllie, Staphylococcus aureus program leader of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and a consultant microbiologist in Public Health England.
“Once again, we are happy to see European research teams work effectively together, combining their skills to address difficult vaccine developments,” said Dr. Odile Leroy, executive director of the European Vaccine Initiative. “We sincerely hope the Bellerophon Project will pave the way for new successes in fighting antibiotic resistant infectious diseases.”
“We are very proud to be part of the Bellerophon Project consortium with such prestigious partners,” said Dr. Bettina Ernst, chief executive officer of Preclin Biosystems. “We strongly believe our solid infectious models will successfully push this vaccine forward through preclinical trials up to 2015.”