Emergex Vaccine Candidate for Francisella Tularensis
Emergex Vaccines Holding Limited (‘Emergex’), a biotechnology company developing set-point vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases, has announced the successful completion of the first step in the development of a candidate vaccine for the Gram-negative intracellular coccobacillus, Francisella tularensis.
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.
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 alongsideBacillus anthracis (Anthrax)1. 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 decade2.
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.