Affinivax, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company dedicated to developing novel vaccines, has entered into a collaboration with PATH, a global health nonprofit organization, to advance the company’s lead vaccine candidate for Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). The partnership includes funding from PATH to support product development, preclinical testing and manufacturing, with the goal to qualify and select a final development candidate to advance toward clinical testing.
The vaccine was developed utilizing Affinivax’s proprietary Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) technology. The MAPS technology offers the potential to protect children and adults against a broader range of pneumococcal strains and invasive disease, as well as reduce the amount and duration of nasopharyngeal colonization (carriage) and disease transmission.
By combining protective polysaccharides and proteins in a single vaccine to induce a robust B and T cell immune response against both disease and carriage, MAPS represents a next generation approach in vaccine technologies. The process of MAPS also provides for a more rapid and cost-efficient approach to producing vaccines, enabling greater global access to children and adults in need.
“Affinivax’s MAPS technology offers the potential to increase breadth of protection with a cost-effective approach, which could enable children to have access to life-saving vaccines against pneumococcus,” said Dr. Mark Alderson, director of PATH’s pneumococcal vaccine project. “This collaboration with Affinivax exemplifies PATH’s dedication to working with scientists and companies to advance vaccines that can prevent the spread of pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases among children in the developing world.”
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium frequently found in the upper respiratory tract of healthy children and adults, and can cause serious infections ranging from pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, representing a major global health problem. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.6 million people, including more than 800,000 children under 5 years old, die every year from pneumococcal infections, with most of these deaths occurring in low-resource countries. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that about 900,000 cases occur in the U.S. alone, resulting in up to 400,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths annually.