In November 2023 BioCina and GPN Vaccines announced that they are expanding their partnership to develop GPN’s proprietary engineered whole-cell vaccine: Gamma-PN. This is a vaccine against Streptcoccus pneumoniae, a bacterium responsible for life-threatening infections. BioCina will manufacture “large-scale cGMP batches” for the programme.  

Streptococcus pneumoniae 

Streptococcus pneumoniae is responsible for up to 2 million deaths worldwide every year due to infections like pneumonia, bacteraemia, and meningitis. It is a Gram-positive “commensal organism” in the respiratory tract, which means that it can benefit from the human body without causing harm. Humans are the “only known host”. Although it is sensitive to penicillin, there is a growing rate of resistance. 

“This leaves vaccination as a critical tool in disease control.” 

GPN’s technology is based on a strain that “lacks capsular polysaccharide, is avirulent, and safe to handle”. It is inactivated with gamma irradiation to create the vaccine. This process offers an advantage over other methods as it “maintains the structures of conserved surface antigens” which allows effective induction of protective immunity”.  

The partnership 

BioCina has a facility in Australia with a “rich history” of working with recombinant proteins in microbial systems, such as E. coli. The company’s CEO, Mark W. Womack, is “extremely proud” of the opportunity to continue supporting production of the vaccine, which “has the potential to protect so many olives against a broad range of serotypes”.  

GPN Vaccines’ Chair and CEO Professor Tim Hirst is “delighted” to progress with the next stage of manufacture with BioCina as the “CDMO of choice”. 

“They successfully optimised the manufacture of Phase I material, and we now look forward to working with them to deliver a scaled-up process for the manufacture of Phase II material suitable for clinical evaluation worldwide.”  

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