Sanofi Pasteur licenses E. coli vaccine technology

By Staff

A vaccine technology developed jointly at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) was licensed recently to Sanofi Pasteur, a world leader in the vaccine industry. Sanofi plans to develop the technology into a new vaccine protecting against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), a group of bacteria that causes serious gastrointestinal infection.

ETEC is a common cause of bacterial diarrhea in developing countries, and in severe cases can lead to dehydration and shock when not treated promptly and effectively. Travelers' diarrhea represents the most common communicable disease threat to U.S. and coalition forces deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, and also afflicts up to 60 percent of the 80 million people who travel from industrialized countries to lesser-developed countries each year. Acute gastroenteritis also is a serious child health threat in the developing world, accounting for almost 1.6 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization.

There currently is no effective vaccine against ETEC, but a UC Denver research group led by Randall Holmes and Michael Jobling has been working on the problem for several years alongside a Naval center research group led by Capt. Stephen Savarino. The researchers have developed a vaccine formulation designed to block ETEC's ability to adhere to intestinal surface cells and neutralize a toxin that causes the diarrhea associated with ETEC infection. Holmes chairs the microbiology department at the CU School of Medicine.

Sanofi Pasteur will continue to develop the technology under a research agreement with NMRC.

"The university is enthusiastic about the prospects of helping address a serious clinical need, and sees no better partner for this work than a proven vaccine company such as Sanofi," said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office. "This agreement is the product of a fruitful collaboration between the University of Colorado and the Navy, and will now hopefully lead to the rapid and successful development of a new vaccine against ETEC through the expansion of this relationship to include Sanofi."