Themis, Institut Pasteur expand collaboration on solid PhI Chikungunya results

Themis Bioscience and the Institut Pasteur have good news to report from a Phase I trial of their Chikungunya fever vaccine candidate. And the pair thinks its successful results just might lead to advances in other diseases, too.

Themis CEO Erich Tauber

In a Phase I trial of 42 subjects, the Chikungunya prospect--which proved well-tolerated and safe--elicited neutralizing antibodies in all participants, the Austrian biotech announced Thursday. While the immune response was "clearly dose-dependent," it said, even the lowest dose was effective.

The way the two parties see it, it's not only a win for the Chikungunya vaccine--which Themis founder and CEO Erich Tauber said the company would make available "as soon as possible," considering the "ongoing spread of Chikungunya epidemic"--but for the core technology behind it. To make the vaccine, researchers inserted gene codes for selected antigens from the Chikungunya virus into the genome of the measles vaccine--a process they think they might be able to replicate with other maladies.

As such, the Vienna-based company and Institut Pasteur are expanding their collaboration pact. "The Phase I results of the Chikungunya vaccine candidate prove that the measles vector vaccine platform can be used successfully to develop a new generation of prophylactic vaccines, and the Institut Pasteur, which developed its core technology, is keen to strengthen its alliance with Themis to develop those innovative vaccine candidates," Pasteur's Frédéric Tangy said in a statement.

Aedes mosquitoes transmit Chikungunya to people.--Courtesy of CDC

Themis and Institut Pasteur aren't the only ones working on a vaccine to prevent the mosquito-borne illness. In August, NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced that in a Phase I trial of 25 adult volunteers, its own experimental job elicited neutralizing antibodies in all participants.

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