CHAIN announces a new collaboration with clinical researchers at the University of Oxford to develop superior oral vaccines for infectious diseases

Marlow, UK- 22nd of June 2022- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHAIN Biotechnology and the University of Oxford plan to collaborate on a two-year project to develop a new type of vaccine to immunise against human rotavirus (HRV) infection. Ultimately, the aim is to prevent Childhood Diarrhoeal Disease in malnourished children and transform the lives of millions of families across the world.

Childhood Diarrhoeal Disease (CDD) is a global health problem affecting over 1.7 billion children every year and resulting in over 500,000 deaths, mainly in low-income countries. The most common cause of CDD is infection with human rotavirus (HRV). Oral vaccines that protect against HRV infection are available but relatively expensive, and difficult to transport and administer in remote areas as they need to be kept cold. Also, they are largely ineffective in undernourished children.

We aim to develop a superior oral vaccine for HRV that is simple, inexpensive, highly effective and overcomes oral vaccine challenges associated with antigen preservation, antigen delivery and immune stimulation. Our goal is to subvert the vaccine efficacy gap in low-income countries and combat vaccine inequality.

CHAIN Biotech has developed an innovative CADDTM platform for oral drug delivery, based on living gutbacteria with a long, safe history of use in humans and engineered to deliver specific therapeutic cargo to the lower gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria are delivered orally, in spore form, and travel intact through the stomach and small intestine until they reach the colon where they germinate. The bacterial cells then grow and produce candidate molecules impacting on the gut mucosa. The CADDTM platform can be used for oral vaccination through the expression of specific antigenic peptides.

In this project, CHAIN will engineer Clostridium to secrete antigenic peptides designed to provoke an immune response against HRV. The University will undertake pre-clinical evaluation. This work will be led by Dr Kelsey Jones, a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford, and an Honorary Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Dr Jones investigates the association between malnutrition, immunology, and poverty with pioneering research into the effect of undernutrition on the innate immune system in the gut.

The project is supported by a grant from Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst programme. The Assessors felt ‘the project has good potential with a favourable risk-reward profile, addresses high unmet clinical need and that the technical solution was highly innovative. Overall, CHAIN’s oral vaccine platform was deemed very attractive for public finding adding to the UK’s leadership in the vaccine field.’

Dr Edward Green, Chief Executive of CHAIN Biotech, said:  

‘We are really excited about our new project with the Kennedy Institute and the potential to build on this collaboration to validate our oral vaccine candidates. The University has world class expertise and facilities that should accelerate the development of our novel microbiome therapeutics for a broad range of clinical indications including oncology.’

Professor Fiona Powrie FRS, Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences and Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, added:

‘We are delighted to partner with CHAIN Biotech in developing this innovative mucosal vaccine platform. The ability to use the CADD system to target delivery of antigens and other molecules to specific regions of the gastrointestinal tract has significant translational potential.’

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Edward Green, CHAIN Biotech

T: +44 (0)775 3610798 | E: edward@chainbiotech.com

Notes to Editor

About the Kennedy Institute

The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford is a world-leading medical research centre.  Discovery research drives development of transformative therapies for chronic inflammatory and degenerative disease. Directed by Professor Fiona Powrie FRS, the Kennedy Institute has over 25 research groups working in the areas of immunity and microbiome, inflammation biology and tissue re-modelling and repair. Investigators at the Institute take a multidisciplinary approach incorporating molecular and cellular biology with analysis of disease models and interrogation of patient tissue samples.

For more information, please visit: Homepage — The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology (ox.ac.uk)

Following successful patent applications in the EU and US, CHAIN have extended their patent territories and claimed delivery of β-hydroxy butyrate (β-HB) to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in Japan. The patent family (publication number: WO2018055388) ‘Compositions and uses thereof for treating inflammatory diseases and probiotic compositions’ covers genetically engineered bacterial strains to express β-HB in the lower GI tract.

β-HB has gained recent attention as a powerful therapeutic targeting a variety of GI diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. However, traditional delivery methods present overloading issues surrounding carrier substances such as salts or esters; a factor which can be bypassed by direct delivery of β-HB to the lower GI tract. CHAIN’s novel CADD™ platform bacterial strain is engineered to secrete β-HB on arrival in the lower GI tract where it can elicit its therapeutic effects, removing the need for additional compounds.

A recent Nature publication has highlighted a possible role of β-HB in the suppression of colorectal cancer by modulating gene expression and inhibiting cell proliferation. The research presents promising future roles of β-HB as an oncological therapeutic.

CHAIN hopes to further extend the patent in the future, to maximise the impact of therapeutic β-HB in treating GI disease.