Rockville biotech Fina Biosolutions is licensing its conjugate vaccine technology to a Chinese company that plans to develop and manufacture pneumonia vaccines.
Fina will receive from Chengdu Institute of Biological Products up to $850,000 in upfront and milestone payments, plus sales royalties if the vaccine is commercialized, according to Viqar Aslam, a Fina spokesman.
The deal calls for process development and personnel training at Fina's labs in Rockville, with scalable manufacturing of conjugate vaccines at the Chinese company.
“We are delighted to be working with one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in China,” Andrew Lees, CEO and scientific director of Fina, said in a statement. “Our expertise in bioconjugation allows vaccines to be manufactured at lower costs than traditional methods, which ultimately allows for greater uptake into developing economies and in turn benefits all of humanity. We look forward to working on additional vaccine candidates in the near future.”
Current S. pneumonia vaccines are based on bacterial sugar polymers, or polysaccharides, which are not effective in infants unless they are chemically linked to proteins, forming a conjugate, according to Fina information. Conjugate vaccines are complex and expensive to manufacture, but produce stronger and longer-lasting results than vaccines consisting of polysaccharides alone.
“We are pleased to have entered into a development agreement with Fina, an innovative company that has world class expertise in conjugate vaccines,” Yonghong Ge of Chengdu Institute of Biological Products said in the statement. “The technology is already proven in marketed vaccines ... sold by GlaxoSmithKline. This vaccine, if successful, has the potential to benefit over 330 million people in China alone.”
Pneumonia is the world's leading cause of death in children, according to the World Health Organization, killing about 1.4 million children younger than 5 years old every year — more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
It can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition and by addressing environmental factors, the U.N. agency reports.
The Chinese market for pneumococcal vaccines is more than 30 million doses for children younger than 2, and 300 million doses for people older than 50, according to Fina.
In other Maryland bioscience industry news:
Northwest Biotherapeutics has gotten the go-ahead from British regulators to proceed with a phase 3 clinical trial of its brain cancer vaccine candidate in the U.K.
The 300-patient trial of DCVax-L for Glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer expands a study already under way at 41 sites in the U.S., according to the Bethesda company.
"There is an urgent medical need for better treatment options for [Glioblastoma multiforme], the most lethal form of brain cancer," CEO Linda Powers said in a statement. "We appreciate the opportunity to efficiently include the U.K. in our ongoing phase 3 trial ... ."
Northwest also has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a 612-patient phase 3 trial of the candidate in patients with prostate cancer.
Kemp Bio is graduating.
The company, which provides cell culture services to the bioscience industry, is leaving the Frederick Innovative Technology Center incubator for 3,000 square feet at 5119 Pegasus Court in Frederick, owned and developed by St. John Properties of Baltimore.
Fyodor Biotechnologies, which develops diagnostic tests, including one that can detect malaria in urine, has moved and expanded within the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore.
The company moved across the street from the BioInnovation Center at 801 W. Baltimore St. to the expanded BioInnovation Center at 800 W. Baltimore St.
In a statement, Fyodor said the move was spurred by its ramped-up research and development activities.
Its new quarters are in a six-story, 120,000-square-foot building that opened in 2005 and is certified as silver by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Other bioscience companies in the building are InstantLabs, PathSensors and GSSHealth.
Biotech MedImmune has won certification under the environmental building council’s program for two facilities at its Gaithersburg headquarters.
The company's 308,000-square-foot research and development laboratory and its 9,800-square-foot fitness center both received gold certification.
The lab uses a heat recovery system, high-efficiency chilled water and lighting systems, according to information from the company, which is the biologics division of the U.K.’s AstraZeneca. Also, 44 percent of the building envelope is glass, providing more natural light to perimeter labs.
The fitness center is available for employees and has more than 60 pieces of exercise equipment, two studios and locker rooms. The project recycled construction waste and used building products made from recyclable materials. The certification “demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, said in a company statement.
Aeras, a Rockville nonprofit, and the Infectious Disease Research Institute of Seattle reported the start of the first clinical trial of the institute's novel tuberculosis vaccine candidate.
The phase 1 trial, conducted by Johnson County Clin-Trials in Lenexa, Kan., in collaboration with Aeras and the institute, is designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the experimental vaccine in 60 healthy adult volunteers.
Preclinical studies were supported by funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The candidate targets both active tuberculosis, which sickens almost 9 million people and kills 1.4 million people annually, and latent TB, which lies dormant in one-third of the world's population and reactivates when their immune systems are compromised, according to a joint statement.
"An effective TB vaccine for adolescents and adults would be the single most cost-effective intervention against tuberculosis," Tom Evans, Aeras' chief scientific officer, said in the statement. "With cases of drug-resistant TB on the rise, it is urgent to deliver an effective TB vaccine regimen to those who need it as soon as possible."