EpiVax unveils a new vaccine

EpiVax Inc., a Providence-based biotechnology firm, last week announced it has developed a promising vaccine against tularemia.
In animal studies at Rhode Island Hospital, the firm said, its TuliVaxTM protected against lethal doses of the disease. Stephen Gregory, an associate professor at Brown University’s School of Medicine, used mice with “humanized” immune systems; the mice that got a placebo all died when exposed to tularemia, but most receiving the vaccine survived.
Tularemia is rare in humans, with about 200 cases reported each year.
But it is highly contagious, and its most lethal pulmonary form is relatively common in Martha’s Vineyard. So far, there is no safe vaccine.
“TuliVax is likely to be safe because it is composed of small synthetic parts, not the live bacterium,” Gregory said. But work remains before it can progress to human trials.
“Our unique ability to develop safe and effective vaccines by screening whole genomes for candidate vaccine components with computer algorithms is at the core of this research effort,” said Dr. Anne De Groot, president and CEO of EpiVax. “These study results highlight the ability … to create effective and innovative vaccines at an accelerated pace.”

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