Astellas, ClearPath launch vaccines firm aimed at healthcare-associated infections

As healthcare-associated infections continue to burden the medical system and grab headlines, Astellas and ClearPath Development are forming a vaccines company looking to help tackle the issue.

ClearPath Vaccines CSO George Siber

The second company in a 2014 partnership between Astellas and ClearPath, Nosocomial Vaccine Corporation will seek to address an "important area of unmet medical need," ClearPath Vaccines CSO George Siber said in a statement. To develop the vaccines, the new company has established research pacts with Affinivax in Cambridge, MA, and the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It'll work with Affinivax's vaccine platform, Multiple Antigen Presentation System, which the statement said "represents a highly innovative approach for creating novel vaccine formulations that may provide broad protection against the most challenging pathogens."

Each year in the United States, healthcare-associated infections cost $9.8 billion, JAMA Internal Medicine has said. To date, however, there are no vaccines for any of the leading healthcare-related pathogens, ClearPath's release said, including those responsible for a majority of highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The need for protection against the infections has led other organizations such as NIH, Sanofi ($SNY), Pfizer ($PFE), Valneva and the University of London to support development of their own respective vaccine candidates. Sanofi is in the process of initiating a 200-site Phase III trial of its C. diff vaccine, while Pfizer's C. diff vaccine isn't far behind in Phase II but with an FDA fast-track nod.

In June, the NIAID said a candidate it was supporting, NDV-3, was the first to demonstrate "cross-kingdom" protection against fungal and bacterial pathogens, showing preclinical and clinical efficacy against Candida and S. aureus infections. And one month later, Pfizer said it was taking its S. aureus vaccine candidate into a "pivotal" Phase IIb trial for surgical site infections in elective spinal fusion surgery.

A development and financing outfit that helps biopharma companies expand their early pipeline, ClearPath partnered with Astellas in January 2014 to build a global vaccine franchise. The pair launched RSV Corporation in 2013. That company licensed a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine candidate from Swiss biotech Mymetics in a deal worth up to $82 million in upfront and post-proof-of-concept milestone payments.

- here's the release