Selecta starts trial of synthetic nano-vaccine for smoking

Boston-based Selecta Biosciences, a 2011 Fierce 15 winner, has kicked off a Phase I trial of nicotine vaccine SEL-068 for smoking cessation and relapse prevention. The company is touting its trial as the first synthetic nanoparticle vaccine to ever reach human studies.

Selecta was spun out from famed MIT scientist Bob Langer's lab in 2008. Its Synthetic Vaccine Particle platform could allow the company to affordably produce vaccines on a large scale. Furthermore, its technology "enables the induction of antigen-specific immune activation or antigen-specific immune tolerance" for therapeutic and preventative vaccines, the company explains on its website.

Selecta's Phase I trial of SEL-068 will focus on the safety and tolerability of the vaccine, with early results expected in mid-2012. The company will also keep an eye on the vaccine's potency by measuring the concentrations of nicotine-specific antibodies in trial subjects. The synthetic nature of the vaccine means the developer won't have to worry about "off-target responses to biological carriers," which are typically used in vaccines.

"This is the first time ever that a fully integrated synthetic, nanoparticle vaccine is being tested in human clinical trials and is a very important milestone in the translation of Selecta's SVP technology," said Selecta co-founder Ulrich von Andrian in a statement. "Selecta has demonstrated its ability to rationally design immunotherapeutics and induce a robust targeted immune response. SVP technology will revolutionize the way vaccines will be designed, produced and applied." The developer is also looking to apply its technology to autoimmune, infectious diseases and cancer, notes Mass High Tech.

Last month, Selecta, along with BIND Biosciences, landed $47.25 million from multibillion-dollar Russian fund RusNano to add R&D operations in Russia to expand its pipeline of investigational compounds. In August, the company landed a government grant to explore the use of its technology for the development a malaria vaccine.

- here's the Selecta release
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Special Report: Selecta Biosciences - 2011 Fierce 15