Danish biotech firm ACE BioSciences has gained funding from the US non-profit organisation PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) to complete phase I and II clinical trials of a promising vaccine against one of the leading causes of diarrhoeal disease, enterotoxigenic E.coli (ETEC). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested USD 50m in PATH's programme against diarrhoea, writes regional newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende.
ACE BioSciences MD Ingelise Saunders is very pleased with the new partnership with PATH. "It is fantastic, and we are very happy. The ETEC vaccine is a project we acquired last year and now we are going to take on new staff so we can accelerate development," she says.
PATH will fund phase I and II clinical trials of ACE527, a vaccine candidate that offers the broadest coverage among currently available ETEC vaccine formulations.
Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of five, killing more than 1.8 million children each year. ETEC is responsible for up to 840 million infections and approx. 400,000 deaths worldwide annually, most of whom are children in developing countries. ETEC may be the first enteric illness encountered by many infants, and is also the most common cause of diarrhoea among travellers and the armed forces when visiting high-risk regions like Asia and Africa.
Dr. Richard Walker, director of PATH's Enteric Vaccine Initiative says in a press release: "This collaboration represents PATH's first partnership to develop an ETEC vaccine, and we are delighted to work with ACE BioSciences on this promising candidate. The ACE527 vaccine is designed to provide particularly broad coverage against ETEC, and this partnership will provide critical evidence to advance PATH's work in developing vaccines to prevent enteric infections among children in the developing world."
If the development proceeds according to plan, PATH will gain the right to use the vaccine for children in developing countries, while ACE BioSciences will market it worldwide as a travel vaccine.