Genocea Biosciences Enters Into Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with U.S. Military to Develop Malaria Vaccine
Antigens Identified in Collaboration May Yield Vaccine for Malaria
CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA I April 15, 2010 I Genocea Biosciences, a leading vaccine discovery and development company, today announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC). NMRC will collaborate with Genocea to identify antigens that will be used in the development of a vaccine candidate against Plasmodium falciparum for the prevention of malaria.
Genocea and NMRC will leverage their expertise to identify novel malaria vaccine candidate antigens and move promising antigens through preclinical development. Genocea will apply its innovative technology to the rapid identification of novel T-cell antigens from a proteomic screen of the P. falciparum organism, and NMRC will share materials as well as their extensive experience developing subunit malaria vaccines.
This work is funded by a $2.7 million award that was granted to Genocea from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) for rapid T-cell antigen discovery using human T-cell screens of a P. falciparum proteomic library.
"This CRADA validates our proprietary T-cell-directed antigen discovery platform technology and further strengthens our position as a leader in novel vaccine development against pathogens with a high unmet medical need," said Staph Leavenworth Bakali, president and chief executive officer of Genocea. "Our technology is uniquely suited to rapidly identifying antigens in the very large and complex P. falciparum proteome that will be most likely to stimulate broad immune protection. We look forward to working with NMRC to identify such antigens that will lead to a safe and effective vaccine against malaria both for the Military and also potentially for travelers and populations living in endemic regions."
Malaria is a mosquito-transmitted illness caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium. It is one of the most serious infectious diseases in the world, causing nearly a million deaths and hundreds of millions of clinical cases each year. It is also a significant risk for American troops deployed to Asia, Africa and other tropical and subtropical regions where malaria is endemic, debilitating infected personnel and threatening mission integrity. In the human body, the malaria parasites first multiply in the liver, releasing tens of thousands of progeny which then infect red blood cells, multiply again, and lead to anemia and debilitating clinical symptoms. These include fever, headache and prostration, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days following the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening, compromising vital organ function resulting in coma and death. About 1,500 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year. The vast majority are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While several vaccines are in development, none are licensed, and the leading candidate is only partially effective. Identifying novel malaria antigens with greater potential to induce protective responses will be critical to eventually developing a highly efficacious vaccine.
Genocea Biosciences was founded in 2006 to commercialize key breakthroughs in vaccine discovery and development. The Company's proprietary T cell-directed antigen discovery program represents a broad platform with the potential to generate significant novel vaccines for multiple pathogens with high unmet medical need. Genocea is currently developing vaccines for Chlamydia trachomatis (a sexually transmitted disease agent causing an estimated 90 million cases worldwide), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia is the leading killer of children under the age of five worldwide), Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (45 million infected in the US)and Malaria (millions of cases each year) Genocea was recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the "World's Most Intriguing Startups" for 2009. In 2008, Genocea was selected as "Best Vaccine Startup" at the World Vaccine Congress and was selected one of the 15 most exciting biotech startup companies by FierceBiotech. Genocea is backed by leading investors including Lux Capital Management, Polaris Venture Partners, S.R. One, the corporate venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline, Auriga Partners, Cycad Group, Morningside Ventures and Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Visit www.genocea.com for more information.