Preclinical data in hand, Tetragenetics seeks partners for vaccine platform

Cambridge, MA-based Tetragenetics has reported preclinical results that show its nanoparticle-based influenza vaccine protected mice from a particularly virulent strain of H5N1. Company founder and CSO Ted Clark and CEO Marco Cacciuttolo hope this new data could earn the company attention from investors and pharma companies at the upcoming JP Morgan show in San Francisco.

Mice were dosed with a vaccine made of a viral hemagglutinin linked to a scaffold protein from Tetrahymena thermophila and then exposed to an extremely lethal version of H5N1. Researchers found that 90% of the treated mice were able to withstand the virus. The work was conducted by the Institute for Antiviral Research of Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and Tetragenetics with a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Founded in 2004, Tetragenetics says its unique platform will quickly and efficiently produce vaccines for a wide variety of pathogens. Its technology is based on Tetrahymena thermophila, a microbial eukaryote that has been used for basic research since the 1950s. This approach "provides an alternative to viruslike particles and synthetic particles," Cacciuttolo said in an interview with FierceVaccines, adding that the technology allows scientists to design and test a vaccine in a short amount of time. The company also says its technology is particularly suited for production of recombinant subunit vaccines. "What we have here is a novel method for particle-based vaccines," Clark said.

"Our plan going forward is to create a rich pipeline of vaccine candidates, develop them to proof of concept and then license them to pharma companies," said Cacciuttolo. In addition to its H5N1 program, Tetragenetics is working on a malaria vaccine supported initially by a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it intends to initiate two additional programs this year targeting vaccines for human papillomavirus and rotavirus. The company is seeking partners to develop vaccines and recombinant therapeutics for infectious disease.

- here's the release from Tetragenetics