University of Maryland to Collaborate With Industry on Vaccine to Prevent Common Infection

The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) will participate in a partnership with industry to develop a vaccine to prevent a group of deadly bacterial infections that occur commonly among hospital patients.

At CVD, the work will be led by Alan S. Cross, MD, professor of medicine, Raphael Simon, PhD, and Sharon Tennant, PhD, both assistant professors of medicine. The trio, experts in vaccine development, will focus on a vaccine for several types of Gram-negative bacteria that can cause damage and death when they infect humans.

This class of infections, known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), afflict nearly 2 million patients a year. HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving treatment. They are among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States and are associated with a substantial increase in health care costs annually. HAIs cost nearly $10 billion annually in the U.S. alone, and infect up to four percent of patients. There has been a dramatic increase in resistance to antibiotics used to treat these infections which may leave clinicians with few therapeutic options. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine available for any of the major HAIs.

“This is a response to a serious unmet need. We think this partnership has enormous potential,” says Cross. “We think we can make a significant dent in the effect these infections have in the U.S., and around the world.”

The research partnership will include ClearPath Development Company, a biotech company in Rockville, Md., Astellas Pharma, a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo, and Affinivax Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. The collaboration will use Affinivax’s proprietary vaccine platform, Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS), to develop vaccines that prevent certain HAIs.

“This is an important area of unmet medical need,” says George Siber, MD, Clearpath’s chief science officer. “We are excited to launch this research program.”

Richard Malley, MD, who will lead the Affinivax team, is an expert in infectious diseases, vaccine development, and a co-inventor of the MAPS technology, which represents a highly innovative approach for creating novel vaccine formulations that may provide broad protection against the most challenging pathogens.

“Healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance are serious global health hazards,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It’s fantastic to see this kind of nimble public-private partnership taking on this problem. I know that Drs. Cross, Simon and Tennantwill develop important solutions.”

Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine