Poolbeg Pharma agrees option agreement with UCD

Company signs licence for MelioVac, a pre-clinical vaccine for melioidosis

Poolbeg Pharma has identified melioidosis as an infectious disease of interest. Photograph: iStock

Poolbeg Pharma has identified melioidosis as an infectious disease of interest. Photograph: iStock

 

Poolbeg Pharma, which is focused on developing treatments for infectious diseases, has signed an option agreement to license MelioVac with University College Dublin (UCD).

MelioVac is a vaccine for melioidosis, which was invented by UCD associate professor Siobhán McClean through NovaUCD, the university’s innovation hub.

The company will continue its due diligence on MelioVac, a pre-clinical asset and recipient of a Wellcome Trust Award to aid its development, as well as other potential vaccine candidates discovered by Prof McClean and her team, for the duration of the agreement.

Poolbeg Pharma has identified melioidosis as an infectious disease of interest due to its rising incidence around the world and because there is no approved vaccine available. Concerns are growing about global warming contributing to the spread of the disease to traditionally non-tropical areas.

Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease, is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, commonly found in the soil and surface groundwater of many tropical and subtropical regions, with diverse clinical presentations including pneumonia and severe sepsis with multiple organ abscesses.

Incidence of the disease is widespread in southeast Asia, Northern Australia and India with an estimated 165,000 cases of melioidosis each year, of which as many as 89,000 are estimated to be fatal.

Other potential vaccine candidates that Poolbeg is evaluating include those for Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli (O157), Burkholderia cepacia complex, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii.

“Melioidosis offers Poolbeg an opportunity to expand our portfolio of infectious disease assets, as promised at IPO. This is a disease which presents a dangerous and underappreciated threat to human health which currently has no approved vaccine and a very high mortality rate,” said chief executive Jeremy Skillington.

“If we can take MelioVac through clinical development to Phase II ready, it has the potential to generate significant returns for investors in the short term while contributing to the global response to the threat of infectious diseases with an unmet medical need,” he added.