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CARB-X funds SutroVax to develop a new vaccine to prevent Group A Streptococcal infections

CARB-X funds SutroVax to develop a new vaccine to prevent Group A Streptococcal infections

Vaccines are essential in the global fight against drug-resistant bacteria

(BOSTON, MA) –– CARB-X, a global partnership led by Boston University, is awarding SutroVax of Foster City, California, USA, up to $1.64 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $13.4 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop an innovative vaccine to prevent infections caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria in developing countries and in the developed world.

Currently, no vaccine exists for Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, the causative pathogen in pharyngitis (‘Strep Throat’), which can range from minor illness to very serious and deadly disease. GAS also can cause post-infectious immune-mediated rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a leading cause of mortality in the developing world.

“Vaccines are powerful weapons in the global fight against drug-resistant bacteria. Vaccines prevent infections and reduce the need for antibiotics, helping to curb the spread of drug resistance,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and Professor of Law at Boston University. “The SutroVax project is in the early stages of development but if successful and approved for use in patients, it could save lives, improve public health and strengthen health security world-wide.”

“This funding will support our collaborative efforts to develop a safe, effective Group A Strep vaccine to prevent a highly prevalent disease with wide-spread morbidity and mortality, particularly in the developing world” said Grant Pickering, CEO and co-founder of SutroVax. “We are grateful for this support from CARB-X to accelerate the development of this promising vaccine.”

Urgent need to prevent Group A Strep infections

The SutroVax vaccine is currently in the lead optimization phase of development. The vaccine is composed of Group A Strep carbohydrate antigen coupled to an immunogenic protein carrier using SutroVax’s site-specific conjugation technology. The vaccine has been modified to avoid triggering an immune response that can adversely affect human cardiac or brain tissue, which had been seen with earlier vaccines. The discovery of the GAS antigen was made at the University of California at San Diego, and SutroVax has a license to the technology.

Pharyngitis is prevalent in school-age children with an estimated 600 million cases of pharyngitis annually worldwide and, as a result, GAS-related infections are a major source of antibiotic prescriptions. Most of these infections are mild and treatable however increasing numbers of cases are associated with severe invasive infections, including sepsis, necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) and toxic shock syndrome. Global mortality figures are not available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in the United States alone, approximately 11,000 to 13,000 cases of invasive GAS disease (cellulitis with blood infection, necrotizing fasciitis, pneumonia, and toxic shock syndrome) occur each year, from which, between 1,100 and 1,600 people die. It is estimated that in low- and middle-income countries, up to 180,000 people die from RHD each year.

Driving innovation to address the growing global superbug crisis

The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest development portfolio of new antibiotics, diagnostics, vaccines and other life-saving products. It currently has 30 active projects in five countries, and is expected to grow significantly this year.

Since its launch in 2016, CARB-X has announced 47 awards exceeding $137.2 million, with the potential of additional funds if project milestones are met, to accelerate the development of antibacterial products. These funds are in addition to investments made by the companies themselves. The CARB-X pipeline will evolve continuously, as projects progress and graduate from CARB-X and others fail for a variety of reasons.

Partnership driving antibacterial innovation

CARB-X is investing up to $500 million in antibacterial R&D between 2016-2021. The goal is to support projects in the early phases of development through Phase 1, so that they will attract additional private or public support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients. CARB-X funding is restricted to projects that target drug-resistant bacteria highlighted on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2013 Antibiotic Resistant Threats list, or the Priority Bacterial Pathogens list published by the WHO in 2017 – with a priority on those pathogens deemed Serious or Urgent on the CDC list or Critical or High on the WHO list.

CARB-X is led by Boston University and funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services , the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). CARB-X is headquartered in the Boston University School of Law.

Part of CARB-X’s award for SutroVax will come from funds provided by the UK Government’s Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF). GAMRIF is an Official Development Assistance (ODA) fund which allocates support for projects that promote the welfare and economic development of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A vaccine to prevent infections caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS) could protect the lives of hundreds of thousands in the developing world, including vulnerable populations – pregnant women, newborn babies and the elderly – who are particularly susceptible to invasive GAS infections. It may also reduce the overuse of antibiotics in LMICs, helping to slow the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and awards from Wellcome Trust, the UK Government and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, as administrated by CARB-X. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, other funders, or CARB-X. 

Media Contacts:

CARB-X:
Jennifer Robinson
carbxpr@bu.edu
+1.514.914.8974

SutroVax:
Julie Rathbun
julie@rathbuncomm.com
+1.206.769.9219

About CARB-X
CARB-X is a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University and dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services , the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). A non-profit partnership, CARB-X is investing up to $500 million from 2016-2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics and devices. CARB-X supports the world’s largest and most innovative pipeline of preclinical products against drug-resistant infections. CARB-X focuses exclusively on high priority drug-resistant bacteria, especially Gram-negatives. CARB-X is headquartered at Boston University School of Law. https://carb-x.org/.  Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.

About SutroVax
SutroVax is an independent vaccine platform and development company whose mission is to deliver best-in-class conjugate vaccines and novel complex antigen-based vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.sutrovax.com

About BARDA and NIAID
The US Department of Health and Human Services works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. Within HHS, ASPR’s mission is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. ASPR leads the nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. BARDA provides a comprehensive, integrated, portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases. NIH is the primary US federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.

About Wellcome Trust
Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 210183. Its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a company registered in England and Wales, no. 2711000 (whose registered office is at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK)

About BMBF
Education and research are the foundations for our future. The promotion of education, science and research by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) represents an important contribution to securing Germany’s prosperity. Education and research are a Federal Government policy priority, which is reflected in the development of the funding it is making available to these fields. 

About the Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF)
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is the UK Government department which is responsible for helping people to live more independent, healthier lives for longer.

The partnership with CARB-X is part of DHSC’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF). GAMRIF was established to provide seed funding for innovative research and development, specifically in neglected and underinvested areas, in the field of AMR.  GAMRIF is a £50m UK Aid investment, which means all projects funded must support research primarily and directly for the benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Fund takes a ‘One Health’ approach, seeking to invest in potential solutions to reduce the threat of AMR in humans, animals, fish and the environment. The Fund seeks to leverage additional global funding through interaction with international government bodies, public-private partnerships, product development partnerships, global funding mechanisms and global fora.

About Boston University 
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. For further information, please contact Jeremy Thompson at jeremy22@bu.edu. www.bu.edu.