GonOMVax – Secondary exploitation EU Malaria Fund
Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonococcus) is a Gram-negative human pathogen that causes approximately 80 million infections of mucosal surfaces including urethra, endocervix, pharynx, conjunctiva and rectum. The disease spectrum ranges from mucosal inflammatory disease to pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) that, after resolution, can leave sequelae such as male and female sterility, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, low birth weight, septic abortion and acute conjunctivitis/blindness in the new-born. Bloodstream infections lead to septic arthritis, endocarditis, meningitis and in some cases death. Gonococcal infections are prevalent worldwide with a disproportionate burden in Low-Middle-Income countries (LMIC).
Neisseria gonorrhoeae acquires resistance to antibiotics very rapidly and there is no longer a single reliable class of antibiotics for empirical treatment of these infections. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) ha categorised gonococcus as one of the “urgent” antibiotic-resistant threats in the USA.
There are currently no effective vaccines against gonococcal infections. This is due to the complexity and antigenic diversity of Neisseria gonorrhoeae that is able to evade and suppress immune responses. Therefore, efforts need to move towards a vaccine that can overcome these immune-suppressive constraints.
At AchilleS Vaccines we will exploit the potential of mOMV to overcome many of the constraints that have so far impeded progress towards gonococcal vaccines. The type of immune responses induced by mOMV and the possibility to use bioinformatics to identify of antigens that are conserved among Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates and can elicit functional bactericidal responses, will pave the way towards development of low-cost, versatile, multivalent gonococcal vaccines.
The flexibility of the mOMV plarform will also allow “plug and play” modifications and/or inclusion of new antigens to increase valency and coverage in response to epidemiological changes. The project will be performed as a collaboration between AchilleS Vaccines (Siena, Italy) and University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK).