Cambridge, Mass. – Genocea Biosciences has been awarded a grant from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Cooperative Research Center for the development of vaccines for Chlamydia trachomatis, according to an announcement made Dec. 15.
Genocea will work with Dr. Toni Darville, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as well as Dr. Tom Cherpes, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the UPSM and a researcher at Magee-Womens Research Institute.
“This collaboration complements ongoing preclinical studies based on already identified novel antigens,” said Staph Leavenworth Bakali, Genocea’s president and CEO.
Chlamydia trachomatis infects more than 90 million people around the world each year and is the largest cause of preventable blindness, afflicting more than 8 million people worldwide with irreversible blindness or visual impairment. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States with approximately 4 million new cases and more than $2 billion spent to treat the disease each year.
Chlamydia infections can progress to serious reproductive complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, often occurring "silently" before a patient ever recognizes a problem. Furthermore, untreated Chlamydia trachomatis infections have been known to cause pelvic inflammatory disease in up to 40 percent of women with untreated Chlamydia.
In November, UPMC received a $12.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the UPMC STI Cooperative Research Center to advance the understanding of the pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, control, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and associated syndromes.