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U of Maryland licenses novel vaccine to fight staph infections


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 14th, 2017

The University of Maryland (UM) at Baltimore has signed an exclusive license agreement with Maryland-based start-up Serenta Biotechnology to advance a new vaccine technology against staph infections.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), staph infection is one of the most prevalent causes of deadly, chronic bacterial infections due to its ability to resist antibiotics. To this day, there is no single antibiotic that is effective against all staph infection strains.

“Without clinical innovations, we may see a return to the pre-antibiotic era where [staph] resulted in a 90% death rate,” says Mark Shirtliff, lead inventor of the vaccine and co-founder of Serenta.

The technology consists of four specific antigens expressed when the staph bacteria exists within an antibiotic-resistant biofilm, and one that is expressed when the bacteria is in its free-floating form. The vaccine has proven effective in mouse models where no other vaccine has succeeded before.

“We’re excited to work on an intelligent new approach to vaccine development that may save lives,” says Florian Schödel, co-founder and chairman of Serenta. “This approach is unique in that it stems from observations on bacterial lifestyle in the host, not just reverse genetics, recombinant antigens and individual bacteria in the test tube.”

Phil Robilotto, chief commercialization officer at the university’s tech transfer office UM Ventures, comments, “Serenta has committed to addressing a critical area of unmet medical need worldwide. This is a strong, experienced management team, and we look forward to seeing the company advance this very important technology quickly towards clinical trials.”

Source: UM Ventures

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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