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UM SOM to Collaborate with Industry to Develop a Vaccine to Prevent Common, Deadly Infection

January 11, 2016

The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) will participate in a partnership with industry to develop a vaccine to prevent a group of deadly bacterial infections that occur commonly among hospital patients.

At CVD, the work will be led by Alan S. Cross, MD, Professor of Medicine, Raphael Simon, PhD, and Sharon Tennant, PhD, both Assistant Professors of Medicine. The trio, experts in vaccine development, will focus on a vaccine for several types of Gram-negative bacteria that can cause damage and death when they infect humans.

This class of infections, known as healthcare associated infections (HAIs), afflict nearly two million patients a year. HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving treatment. They are among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States and are associated with a substantial increase in health care costs annually. HAIs cost nearly $10 billion annually in the U.S. alone, and infect up to four percent of patients. There has been a dramatic increase in resistance to antibiotics used to treat these infections which may leave clinicians with few therapeutic options.  Currently, there is no licensed vaccine available for any of the major HAIs.

“This is a response to a serious unmet need. We think this partnership has enormous potential,” said Dr. Cross. “We think we can make a significant dent in the effect these infections have in the U.S., and around the world.”

The research partnership will include ClearPath Development Company, a biotech company in Rockville, Maryland, Astellas Pharma, a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo, and Affinivax Inc., of Cambridge Massachusetts. The collaboration will use Affinivax’s proprietary vaccine platform, Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS), to develop vaccines that prevent certain HAIs.

“This is an important area of unmet medical need,” said George Siber, MD, Clearpath’s Chief Science Officer. “We are excited to launch this research program.”

Richard Malley, MD, who will lead the Affinivax team, is an expert in infectious diseases, vaccine development, and a co-inventor of the MAPS technology, which represents a highly innovative approach for creating novel vaccine formulations that may provide broad protection against the most challenging pathogens.

“Healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance are serious global health hazards,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It’s fantastic to see this kind of nimble public-private partnership taking on this problem. I know that Drs. Cross, Simon and Tennantwill develop important solutions.”

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine:

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world. http://medschool.umaryland.edu/

About ClearPath Development Company:

ClearPath Development Company, a subsidiary of RRD International, works with leading biopharmaceutical companies to expand product pipeline opportunities with complementary development and finance capabilities. Its business model provides biopharmaceutical companies with an alternative mechanism for accelerating product development.  This model is highly capital-efficient for development of early-stage assets, enables accelerated development for existing company assets and external assets under consideration for in-licensing, and helps de-risk development projects with tailored financing structures. For more information, visit www.clearpathdevco.com.

About Astellas:

Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. It focuses on Urology, Oncology, Immunology, Nephrology and Neuroscience as prioritized therapeutic areas while advancing new therapeutic areas and discovery research leveraging new technologies/modalities. The companyis also creating new value by combining internal capabilities and external expertise in the medical/healthcare business. Astellas is on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients. For more information, please visit our website at www.astellas.com/en.

About Affinivax:

Affinivax is advancing a next generation vaccine technology platform to enable the development of vaccines that provide the highest level of protection against challenging infectious diseases.  Backed by an investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and working with world experts in vaccine discovery and development, Affinivax is focused on creating a pipeline of vaccines for children and adults in both the developed and developing worlds.  The company’s proprietary vaccine platform, called Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS), enables the high affinity binding of protective polysaccharides and proteins in a single vaccine and uniquely induces a broad and protective immune response.  The MAPS technology provides a highly stable, modular, and efficient approach to develop vaccines against a wide range of diseases. The company has achieved preliminary preclinical proof-of-concept for several MAPS vaccines and is currently advancing its lead vaccine candidate against Streptococcus pneumoniae.  For more information, visit www.affinivax.com.

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