Genocea Biosciences signs deal for pneumonia antigens

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A vaccine discovery and development company on March 18 announced an exclusive worldwide license for developed countries to a portfolio of Streptococcus pneumoniae antigens from Children’s Hospital Boston.

PATH and Genocea Biosciences retain certain rights to the antigens for use in developing countries under their collaboration agreements with Children’s Hospital Boston. These antigens were identified through a 2008 research collaboration between Genocea, PATH and Children’s Hospital Boston to develop a protein subunit vaccine.

This license grants Genocea the right to develop and commercialize vaccines that incorporate these novel antigens.

“The acquisition of rights to these co-developed S. pneumoniae antigens significantly bolsters our vaccine development pipeline,” said Staph Leavenworth Bakali, Genocea’s president and CEO.

Genocea and Children’s Hospital have completed pre-clinical proof of concept studies on an S. pneumoniae vaccine developed using these antigens. The company and the group from Children’s Hospital was to present the results at the Seventh International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases this week.

“Impressive progress has been made in the development of vaccines against pneumococcus, but with the high childhood mortality still associated with pneumococcal disease in developing countries, there remains a significant medical need for further advances in this area,” said Richard Malley, an associate professor of pediatrics and member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Boston. “The antigens we discovered with Genocea and PATH may prove invaluable in the development of vaccines to prevent the devastating diseases associated with S. pneumoniae infection.”

S. pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, can cause pneumonia, meningitis, acute otitis media (middle ear infections that can lead to a child becoming deaf), bloodstream infections and sinus infections.

According to the World Health Organization, S. pneumoniae is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children worldwide and particularly in developing countries. Although all age groups may be affected, the highest rate of pneumococcal disease occurs in children younger than 5 and in the elderly.

In addition, people suffering from a wide range of chronic conditions and immune deficiencies are at increased risk.