Emergex Vaccines Holding Limited, a biotechnology company developing population-based synthetic disease prophylaxis set-point vaccines in the field of infectious diseases, today announced it has successfully completed the first step in the development of a candidate vaccine for the Gram-negative intracellular coccobacillus, Francisella tularensis.

A Tularemia lesion on the dorsal skin of right hand/CDC

Specifically, Emergex has successfully generated a 1st generation human specific MHC-Class I CD8 peptide ligandome library for F. tularensis for the most commonly occurring human alleles. The library contains encrypted peptide data to instruct the immune system to alter the initial set-point of response on first exposure and potentially reduce disease severity but still allow natural immunity to provide long term protection. Emergex vaccines, that are self-adjuvant, also potentially limit or eliminate allergic, autoimmune or antibody-mediated side effects of traditional vaccines.

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This is the first time that Emergex’s technology has been successfully applied in the creation of a bacterial vaccine candidate, a significant milestone, which will enable the growth of its pipeline and development of other intracellular bacterial vaccines in the future.

Emergex’s technology has already been successfully used in the development of the Company’s current vaccine candidates which includes viral vaccines for Dengue Fever and potentially other flaviviruses, pandemic and seasonal Influenza (flu) and filoviruses such as Ebola virus.

F. tularensis is a highly virulent bacterial pathogen and considered a potential bioterrorist agent and is categorized as a Tier 1 priority by the US government alongside Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax). Due to its low infectious dose and ease of spread, the bacterium is particularly well-suited to aerosol biowarfare attacks. Infection with F. tularensis is the cause of tularemia, which can be lethal without immediate treatment. As such, the impact of an outbreak could be devastating. Three cases have been reported in the United Kingdom in the last decade.

No approved vaccine for F. tularensis currently exists, though an experimental live attenuated vaccine is currently employed for emergency prophylactic use only, e.g. for managing potential exposures to personnel working in high-risk laboratories using the bacterium.

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Professor Thomas Rademacher, CEO and co-founder of Emergex, commented, “This is the first proof of principle that our technology can be applied to intra-cellular bacteria, expanding our capabilities beyond our current pipeline of viral pathogens. The potential this holds for our development portfolio is significant and now provides us the option to explore other high priority bacteria pathogens – such as antibiotic-resistant ‘super’ gonorrhea which is an intracellular bacterial pathogen of rising concern.”

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