Emergex Vaccines signs £1.79m Department of Health contract
Published on 23 November 2023
Milton Park occupier Emergex Vaccines has signed a contract with the UK Department of Health and Social Care for £1.79m to advance a CD8 T cell-based vaccine candidate against Chikungunya virus (CHIKV).
CHIKV is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes epidemics of illness characterised by debilitating arthralgia and arthritis that can endure for months to years following infection. In the last decade, CHIKV has become a re-emerging mosquito-transmitted virus that has spread into Europe, Asia, the Pacific Region and the Americas, with epidemics causing severe economic impact.
The milestone-based contract is designed such that Emergex will advance the development of a CD8 T cell-priming Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) vaccine candidate (PepGNP-ChikV) through preclinical studies. It will then manufacture the vaccine candidate under Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards, and apply for MHRA regulatory submission for a Phase-1 clinical trial in the UK. The programme is intended to position Emergex for entry to the clinic by its completion, ready to begin a Phase-1 clinical trial.
Laurens Rademacher, Chief Technology Officer of Emergex commented, “We are greatly looking forward to continuing development of our novel T cell-priming solutions against leading and re-emerging global health threats of epidemic potential. Through this meaningful contract, we are pleased that the UK government and its advisors recognise the potential of our innovative technology in contribution to global epidemic (and pandemic) preparedness.
“The focus of this opportunity on developing ground-breaking solutions targeted to entire families of viruses aligns well with Emergex’s core mission and capabilities. Our T cell-priming set-point candidates are designed to deliver robust and long-lasting protection against current and existing strains of RNA viruses, from Influenza to Chikungunya, and to ultimately increase vaccine accessibility in endemic regions.”
This news follows a previous announcement in February 2022, highlighting a contract awarded by UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care (‘DHSC’). This supported the development of Emergex’s Chikungunya vaccine candidate prototype stages of which included:
1) identification of novel CHIKV peptide antigen epitopes (collectively constituting Emergex’s “ligandome”)
2) synthesis of a vaccine candidate
3) testing in in vitro efficacy models.
Subsequently, Emergex achieved all milestones, priming the CHIKV candidate for progression to the next stage of its preclinical development.
Dr Phil Packer, Innovation Lead, AMR and Vaccines, from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) added: “Innovate UK are delivering a further (£40M) Programme for DHSC to develop vaccines against diseases that have outbreak potential. This exciting project, spearheaded by Emergex, will pave the way for development of a vaccine against Chikungunya Virus that will be ready for evaluation in human clinical trials. This brings us one step closer to providing a solution that, if successful, will have huge benefit for people in Low- and Middle- Income Countries where this disease is most prevalent.”