U.K.'s Prokarium scores $585,000 for oral chlamydia vaccine

Prokarium, which specializes in developing oral vaccines, announced £377,000 ($585,000) in new funding from SynbiCITE, the U.K.'s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology. It will go toward the development of an oral chlamydia vaccine.

The project will cost £498,000 ($773,000) and Prokarium is pitching in £121,000 of its own money. The biotech is collaborating with Imperial College's Robin Shattock to complete preclinical development of its chlamydia vaccine, which, according to a statement, could enter clinical trials as early as 2017.

Currently, no vaccine exists for chlamydia. It is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., with 1.4 million cases reported in 2013. Symptoms may not appear until several weeks after infection, at which point damage to the reproductive system has already been done.

Prokarium's candidate uses synthetic biology to make a safe and effective chlamydia vaccine, said Ted Fjällman, CEO of Prokarium.

"We have produced a carrier in the form of a re-engineered strain of Salmonella containing the blueprint for the vaccine. It will be taken orally and as it enters through the person's gut lining it is naturally engulfed by the body's own immune cells and only then triggered to produce the active vaccine exactly where it is needed and without side effects in other parts of the body," Fjällman said.

"The need for a Chlamydia vaccine is significant and the potential for this approach both for Chlamydia and as a model for treating other infections in the medium-term is very encouraging," said Steve Chambers, CEO of SynbiCITE

In June, a U.S. team, including researchers from Harvard medical School, MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital, tested its candidate in mice.

- here's the release