Oragenics Inc. has announced that it has filed a U.S. patent application covering a collection of 44 genes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that are specifically induced during active infection of human patients.
The identification of these gene targets offers the promise of a new tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic test to meet a critical worldwide need, and could potentially serve as the basis for an effective new vaccine against tuberculosis infection.
According to an October 2006 report by BIO Ventures for Global Health, tuberculosis is the world's leading cause of death by an infectious agent.
Although TB is generally considered a problem only for developing countries, public health officials estimate that 10 to 15 million Americans are infected with the latent form of the disease.
Those people with latent TB who eventually become contagious, and are left untreated, can infect on average up to 15 others each year.
These novel TB gene targets were discovered using the IVIAT proprietary technology, now exclusively owned by Oragenics as a result of the recent acquisition of the iviGene Corporation.
IVIAT, or In Vivo Induced Antigen Technology, is a patented discovery platform designed to identify genes of pathogenic bacteria that are specifically expressed during actual human infections.
Dr. Robert Zahradnik, Oragenics' president and CEO stated, "The IVIAT technology has proven its ability to identify novel targets for a number of infectious agents, including Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The resurgence of tuberculosis, especially tied to the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of the disease, highlights the pressing global need for new diagnostic tests and therapeutic agents."
Initial funding for this TB project was provided through a competitive Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Research.
The company expects to continue the development of this technology through the gene target validation phase, preclinical studies and initial clinical trials for a new diagnostic test and for a vaccine against TB.
Oragenics' scientists also plan to further utilize its patented IVIAT platform technology to discover unique gene targets for a number of other serious and dangerous human infectious diseases.