mobile btn
Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Emergex enters preclinical development for a tularemia vaccine

© Shutterstock

Utilizing its synthetic, CD8+ T cell Adaptive Vaccine platform, Emergex Vaccines Holding Ltd. began preclinical development last week of a new medical countermeasure against tularemia.

Tularemia is caused by francisella tularensis, an exceptionally virulent intracellular bacterial pathogen. The disease itself is a zoonotic cross-over from rodents, hares, and rabbits, which typically induces fever, skin ulcers, and, at times, pneumonia. Usually spread by creatures like ticks and deer flies, contaminated water, or direct contact with infected animals, no approved vaccines exist to counter it.

“Emergex recognizes the importance of effective medical countermeasure development for a diversity of viral and intracellular bacterial threats,” Emergex CEO and co-founder Thomas Rademacher said. “We believe that the field of T cell priming vaccines can play an important role in national preparedness initiatives. Next generation vaccines, such as our T cell Adaptive Vaccines, will enable the induction of targeted T cell immunity via priming of naïve T cells that recognize and remove infected cells and thereby cut short the infection cycle, sparing that person.”

Work on a vaccine candidate for tularemia began in 2019, with successful characterization of an affiliated epitope, or ligandome library, which contains encrypted peptide data used to teach the immune system to alter its response to first exposures and, potentially, reduce disease severity without counteracting the long-term protection of natural immunity. It was the first time Emergex’s technology had been successfully utilized to create a bacterial vaccine candidate. This technological effort will now be combined with the CD8+ T cell Adaptive Vaccine platform for further refinement.

The U.S. government deemed Tularemia a category A biothreat, making it on par with anthrax, smallpox, plague, and viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola. This means it was deemed a national security threat either due to transmissibility, high mortality rate and public health import, affiliated needs for special public health preparedness, and/or because of its potential to cause public panic and social disruption along the way.

If successful, Emergex’s platform could create a vaccine capable of spurring a cytotoxic CD8+ T cell response to kill infected cells.