CARB-X funds Vaxxilon AG to develop a new vaccine to prevent carbapenem-resistant superbug Klebsiella pneumoniae infections

CARB-X funds Vaxxilon AG to develop a new vaccine to prevent carbapenem-resistant superbug Klebsiella pneumoniae infections

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

(BOSTON: August 20, 2019) – CARB-X, a global partnership led by Boston University, is awarding Vaxxilon AG of Reinach, Switzerland, up to $1.4 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $3.1 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop a multivalent vaccine to prevent infections caused by carbapenem-resistant bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae, an invasive Gram-negative superbug associated with life-threatening intensive-care and hospital-acquired infections and high mortality rates.  

“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.”

Arne von Bonin, CSO and Head of Immunology at Vaxxilon, said: “CARB-X’s award will support the development of VXN-319, a semi-synthetic conjugate vaccine targeting multiple strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae, one of the top priority critical pathogens identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). We are very excited to receive CARB-X’s support to advance this novel approach to vaccines to reduce the incidence of infection by this superbug and burden on the use of antibiotics.”

K. pneumoniae are Gram-negative bacteria commonly found in the body that can cause severe infections primarily in intensive-care and other hospitalized patients. K. pneumoniae strains have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In healthcare settings, Klebsiella infections commonly occur among patients who are receiving treatment for other conditions and whose care requires devices like ventilators (breathing machines) or intravenous (vein) catheters. Such infections are associated with high mortality, greater than 50%, according to some studies.

VXN-319 is a carbohydrate-based vaccine currently at the lead optimization stage. Vaxxilon expects it would provide protection against more than 80% of carbapenem resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae. To create the vaccine, Vaxxilon synthesizes the carbohydrates that resemble the 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.

New vaccines urgently needed to fight superbug crisis

Drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise worldwide and represent a threat to global public health and health security. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections. In the United States, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections. In Europe, the number of deaths yearly is estimated at 33,000.

Partnership driving antibacterial innovation globally

The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest antibacterial development portfolio with 29 active projects in five countries. Since its inception in 2016, CARB-X has announced awards for 46 projects in seven countries exceeding $134 million, with the possibility 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. As well as funding, CARB-X provides business and scientific support for projects through the CARB-X Global Accelerator Network, a network of nine expert organizations around the world. The CARB-X pipeline will continuously evolve, as projects progress or fail.

CARB-X is investing up to US$500 million in antibacterial R&D between 2016-2021 to support the development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other products. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development through Phase 1, so that they will attract additional support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients. The scope of CARB-X funding is restricted to projects that target drug-resistant bacteria highlighted on the Centers 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 Administration for Strategic 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.

This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by an award from Wellcome Trust. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Wellcome Trust, or other CARB-X funders.

Media Contacts:

Jennifer Robinson

Vaxxilon AG:
Tom Monroe
+41 (0)79 558 1264

About CARB-X
CARB-X is a global non-profit partnership, led by Boston University, 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 Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the U.S. 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) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A non-profit partnership, CARB-X is investing up to US$500 million from 2016-2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines and rapid diagnostics. 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. Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X

About Vaxxilon
Vaxxilon was established in 2015 to discover and develop novel vaccines against major infectious diseases. The innovative technologies are based on the scientific insights and research of Professors Peter Seeberger (the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces) and Gennaro de Libero (University Hospital of Basel). Vaxxilon is advancing several vaccine candidates using homogeneous, rationally designed, synthetically produced carbohydrate antigens and novel small molecule carriers.

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