Multivalent conjugate vaccine aims to prevent deadly hospital-acquired respiratory, urinary-tract and other infections that kill thousands of patients each year.

Vaxxilon, a privately held company working on synthetic vaccines, has been awarded a grant of up to USD 1.4 million from CARB-X, with the possibility of USD 3.1 million more based on the achievement of milestones, to develop the first prophylactic vaccine for the prevention of carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae.

“The complete CARB-X award will enable us to conduct the full preclinical development, GMP manufacturing, and a Phase I clinical trial for VXN-319, a semi-synthetic conjugate vaccine,” according to Tom Monroe, CEO of Vaxxilon. “Carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae is spreading quickly around the world and Vaxxilon’s novel vaccine, if approved, could prevent infections, save lives, and reduce the pressure for use of powerful antibiotics. Carbapenems are a powerful class of antibiotics and when those treatments are ineffective in patients, the infections become very difficult to treat.”

Arne von Bonin, Vaxxilon CSO and Head of Immunology, added “crKP is a major public health threat which is usually acquired in hospital settings. It is an invasive disease causing bloodstream, urinary tract and surgical site infections as well as ventilator assisted pneumonia. It has high morbidity and mortality rates so a crKP-specific vaccine could have a major impact on this superbug.”

“Vaccines are vital tools in the fight against disease and drug-resistant bacteria, with the potential to prevent infections and reduce the spread of life-threatening bacteria,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and Professor of Law at Boston University. “Vaxxilon’s vaccine, if approved for use in patients, could prevent deadly infections and save the lives of thousands of patients in hospitals worldwide who might otherwise contract infections and die.”

K. pneumoniae are Gram-negative bacteria commonly found in the body and in the environment that can cause severe infections primarily in intensive-care and other hospitalized patients. There are multiple strains of K. pneumoniae, many of which have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, making treatment of infection by these strains very challenging. Such infections are associated with high mortality which can be greater than 50% according to some studies.

VXN-319 is a carbohydrate based vaccine currently at the lead optimization stage. Vaxxilon estimates it would provide protection against more than 80% of carbapenem resistant strains. Vaxxilon synthesizes the carbohydrates that resemble the sugar coating which surrounds each bacterial cell. The synthetic carbohydrates are then combined with other components to create conjugate vaccines similar to those that have been approved to prevent infections from bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type B.