Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds Pfenex vaccine R&D

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

Melinda Gates talks with mothers in India (Credit: Gates Foundation)
Melinda Gates talks with mothers in India (Credit: Gates Foundation)

Related tags Escherichia coli Biotechnology

Biosimilars company Pfenex is about to set to start a large research programme into recombinant protein vaccines with the non-profit PATH. 

PATH recently received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve production of vaccines.

Pfenex will work on two vaccine components: an adjuvant that could be used in intestinal vaccines, the double-mutant Escherichia coli​ heat-labile toxin (dmLT); and malaria transmission-blocking vaccine candidate, Pfs​25, supported by PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

Pfenex will use its own high-expression platform to try to accelerate the two vaccine programmes. The tech, which originated at Mycogen Corporation and Dow, uses automated high-throughput screening of large libraries of novel, genetically engineered Pseudomonas fluorescens bacterial expression strains.

The robotic screening selects the strains which can best express proteins, and is followed by fermentation experiments to hone the final active therapeutic protein.

If successful in this project, PATH and Pfenex will make dmLT and Pfs25 ​in higher quantities, at lower cost. The programme could also speed up production of other recombinant protein vaccine antigens.

The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative is also funding research into a malaria vaccine by German biopharma ARTES and Australia’s Burnet Institute.

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