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Jan 08, 2015
 |  BC Innovations  |  Translation in Brief

Uptick for Lyme vaccine

Blocking IKBKE for TNBCCIRM 2.0 for faster money

Commercial interest in Lyme disease has all but ground to a halt since the withdrawal of the first vaccine, Lymerix, more than a decade ago, despite a tenfold increase in the U.S. incidence of the disease. Valneva SE has taken up the mantle with a new hexavalent vaccine designed to work against most forms of the disease worldwide. But the biotech might need to show the compound doesn't need periodic boosting if it wants to bring pharmas back to the table.

Andreas Meinke, VP of preclinical and translational research at Valneva, told BioCentury: "What you need in this indication is a strong antibody response that lasts a very long time and this is exactly the difficulty in developing a vaccine."

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia bacteria that are transmitted to the bloodstream by deer ticks when the insects bite humans, dogs or rodents. Antibiotics have made little impact on the disease because it is rarely diagnosed early in infection when the drugs would be effective.

GlaxoSmithKline plc's Lymerix contained a full-length version of the bacterial protein OspA and was targeted against Borrelia burgdorferi, the species most prevalent in the U.S. The vaccine required three doses to induce high enough antibody titers and repeated boosters to maintain its protective effect.

To target more strains of Borrelia, including those prevalent in Europe and other parts of the world, Valneva had to include more antigens in the mix without ballooning the CMC costs.

"There is a need to include six different OspA serotypes in a vaccine if you want to approach 95% coverage of the Borrelia strains that currently infect humans," Meinke said. "Making a six-component vaccine with OspA is too complicated and expensive to produce."

Meinke's team circumvented that problem by focusing on the C-terminal domain of OspA, which is the minimum element needed for vaccine efficacy, and eliminating the N-terminal domain. The researchers created...

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