Auburn developing vaccine with animal, human applications

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Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 6:48 pm

Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University have recently developed a vaccine platform to treat diseases applicable to both animals and humans.

Bernhard Kaltenboeck, professor of pathobiology, and graduate students Erfan Chowdhury and Yihang Li, who worked as his research associates, have developed a vaccine platform designed treat intracellular diseases in which antibodies are ineffective, such as tuberculosis and malaria. It has the capabilities to treat diseases like chlamydia, HIV, dengue fever and cancer. Kaltenboeck’s team spent four years developing the vaccine.

According to Kaltenboeck, what separates this vaccine from others is its ability kill off the disease by lowering the dosage and allowing the immune cells in the body to respond and kill it off.

“This makes it a vaccine where we can eliminate everything that has been a living organism and we can just make it chemically synthetic,” Kaltenboeck said.

Kaltenboeck said that while the vaccine can be applied for both animal and human purposes, the easiest route would be veterinary, which would take two to three years to develop and cost roughly $1 million to test, as compared to the pharmaceutical route, which would take roughly 12 years to develop and nearly $300 million for testing.

“The veterinary route is going to produce a much quicker return on a lower investment, versus human vaccine, that takes much longer to produce a return and is a much higher investment,” Kaltenboeck said.

Thus far, interest in the project is growing.

“As a public institution, we’re very excited about the potential public-benefit implications for this vaccine platform,” said John Weete, assistant vice president for technology transfer and commercialization at Auburn University, in a written statement. “When you see the list of diseases that this technology could affect, the potential societal impact becomes self-evident. While we know we’re very early in the process, we’re still very optimistic about what this could do for both global public health and worldwide food production.”

Brian Wright, a representative in the Office of Technology Transfer, said the college is considering several startup companies to start working with the vaccine.

“Right now, he (Kaltenboeck) is planning to do a company for chlamydia vaccines,” Wright said. “We’re also exploring a possibility for one on the PRRSV (Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus).”

Kaltenboeck and his team are currently seeking out funding to further develop the vaccine, as well as working on different distribution methods for the vaccine.

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