Millions of lives are set to be changed for the better thanks to a landmark deal between Griffith University and Swiss-based company LimmaTech Biologics AG to develop a world-first gonorrhoea vaccine.
Researchers from Griffith’s Institute for Glycomics have developed a suite of vaccine technologies for the prevention of gonorrhoea, and potentially other diseases.
Professor Mike Jennings said: “We have discovered gonococcal vaccine antigens that show great promise and the development program will harness LimmaTech platform technology to develop the vaccine product.”
Professor Kate Seib said the absence of a gonococcal vaccine and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant and untreatable gonococcal strains posed an urgent public health threat.
“We are excited to partner with LimmaTech to help solve this global problem.”
Institute for Glycomics Director Professor Mark von Itzstein said: “This is another example of the Institute’s outstanding translation and commercialisation of its science that brings investment and long-term royalties to Australia.”
Led by the Institute’s Commercial Manager, Eloise Keeffe, Griffith negotiated and signed the exclusive licence and co-development agreement with LimmaTech Biologics to co-develop and commercialise the gonococcal vaccine candidate globally.
The deal comprises significant investment into research and development along with licence and milestonefees, and royalties on product sales.
This investment from LimmaTech brings new, highly skilled jobs to Queensland and new capability in advanced vaccine manufacture.
An outcome of engagement at BIO, a US-based business conference, this deal demonstrates the value of international engagement and enabling partners like Trade and Investment Queensland, with whom the Institute has a deep relationship.
LimmaTech Biologics AG Chief Scientific Officer Dr Michael Kowarik said: “Antibiotic resistance and rising rates of gonorrhoea infections worldwide demonstrate the need for a gonococcal vaccine that can protect against potentially life-threatening variants. Antibodies against our antigens are functionally active in a variety of relevant assays, demonstrating promising vaccine efficacy.”
“Our collaboration with Griffith University will enable us to develop a much-needed vaccination option to address gonorrhoea and to advance other new vaccines for rapidly evolving global challenges.”
Gonorrhoea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection globally with more than 105 million people infected each year.
The disease disproportionately affects women with up to 80 per cent asymptomatic.
Tragically, if left untreated, gonorrhoea can have severe implications including infertility in women and blindness in newborn babies.
Alarmingly, Gonococcal infection dramatically increases the risk of contracting and transmitting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Rates of Gonorrhoea are 6.6 times higher in Australia’s First Peoples compared to non-indigenous.
There is no vaccine.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmissible infection caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria which can infect the throat, anus, urethra, cervix and eyes — risking pain, infertility, blindness, and spread to internal organs.
The inflammation caused by gonorrhoea is known to promote the transmission of HIV.
The WHO, CDC and the Australian Microbial Strategy has prioritised Neisseria gonorrhoeae as an urgent public health threat for which urgent help is needed.LimmaTech Biologics AG is a privately owned, clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing vaccines for the prevention of life-threatening diseases.
This leading-edge research on a vaccine candidate against gonorrhoea infections is part of the company’s proprietary pipeline which is focused on the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).