Poolbeg Pharma plc (LON:POLB, OTCQB: POLBF, a clinical stage infectious disease pharmaceutical company with a unique capital light clinical model, announces that further to the Option Agreement announced in December 2021, Poolbeg has signed an exclusive Licence Agreement with University College Dublin (UCD) through NovaUCD, the University’s knowledge transfer office, for a late preclinical stage vaccine candidate for Melioidosis, a disease for which there is no current approved vaccine available.
The vaccine candidate, which is being developed by Poolbeg as POLB 003, was invented following many years of research by Associate Professor Siobhán McClean, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and was a recipient of a Wellcome Trust Award to aid its development.
Associate Professor McClean completed some of the original research to identify the antigens associated with the Melioidosis vaccine candidate at TU Dublin.
Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease, is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, Poolbeg identified the disease as an infectious disease of interest because of its rising incidence around the world due to climate change and its resistance to antibiotic treatment. As a US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated biothreat, there is an increasing global need to develop effective vaccines and antibiotics to prevent and treat this disease.
As part of the Company’s Option Agreement with UCD, Poolbeg continues to evaluate five other potential vaccine candidates being developed by Associate Professor McClean and her team. This includes Escherichia coli (O157); a powerful toxin that can severely harm children and elderly and leave lasting kidney damage and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; a highly antibiotic resistant bacteria which is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis. As well as Klebsiella pneumoniae which is a prevalent issue in US Defence and healthcare settings resulting in burdensome management of complications, Burkholderia cepacia complex; a significant cause of hospital-acquired infections with large impact on health budgets and Acinetobacter baumannii which poses a threat to immuno- compromised patients in care settings such as cystic fibrosis patients.
Jeremy Skillington, PhD, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma said: “Melioidosis presents a growing threat to global health as an infectious disease with no approved vaccine and a high mortality rate. POLB 003 is being developed in line with our capital light approach and represents a significant opportunity for Poolbeg. Combined with the Company’s expertise in infectious diseases it provides the perfect combination to contribute to the global response to this unmet-medical need and potential to generate significant returns for our investors.”
Siobhán McClean, PhD, Associate Professor, UCD and inventor of MelioVac, said: “This partnership with Poolbeg will enable the further development of this important vaccine candidate. We are pleased to be bringing our technology, and Poolbeg’s vaccine development expertise and industry network together to fight this growing infectious disease.”
Poolbeg Pharma is a clinical stage infectious disease pharmaceutical company, with a unique capital light clinical model which aims to develop multiple products faster and more cost effectively than the conventional biotech model. The Company, headquartered in London, is led by a team with a track record of creation and delivery of shareholder value and aspires to become a “one-stop shop” for pharma and biotech seeking mid-stage products to license or acquire.
The Company is targeting the growing infectious disease market. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, infectious disease has become one of the fastest growing pharma markets and is expected to exceed $250bn by 2025.
With its initial assets from Open Orphan plc, an industry leading infectious disease and human challenge trials business, Poolbeg has access to knowledge, experience, and clinical data from over 20 years of human challenge trials. The Company is using these insights to acquire new assets as well as reposition clinical stage products, reducing spend and risk. Amongst its portfolio of exciting assets, Poolbeg has a small molecule immunomodulator for severe influenza (POLB 001) which has commenced its LPS human challenge trial with initial results expected by year end 2022; a first-in-class, intranasally administered RNA-based immunotherapy for respiratory virus infections (POLB 002); and a vaccine candidate for Melioidosis (POLB 003). The Company is also developing an oral vaccine delivery platform and is progressing two artificial intelligence (AI) programmes to accelerate the power of its human challenge model data and biobank, with results from the first programme expected by year end 2022.