Pfizer Inc. and Valneva SE have initiated a phase 3 clinical study, Vaccine Against Lyme for Outdoor Recreationists (VALOR), to investigate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of their investigational Lyme disease vaccine candidate, VLA15.
“With increasing global rates of Lyme disease, providing a new option for people to help protect themselves from the disease is more important than ever,” said Annaliesa Anderson, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.
“We hope that the data generated from the phase 3 study will further support the positive evidence for VLA15 to date, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the research sites across the U.S. and Europe on this important trial.”
Juan Carlos Jaramillo, chief medical officer of Valneva, said, “We are extremely pleased to reach this important milestone in the development of VLA15. Lyme disease continues to spread, representing a high unmet medical need that impacts the lives of many in the northern hemisphere. We look forward to further investigating the VLA15 candidate in phase 3, which will take us a step closer to potentially bringing this vaccine to both adults and children who would benefit from it.”
The randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 VALOR study is planned to enroll approximately 6,000 participants five years of age and older. The study is being conducted at up to 50 sites in areas where Lyme disease is highly endemic, including Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the U.S. Participants will receive three doses of VLA15 180 µg or saline placebo as a primary vaccination series followed by one booster dose of VLA15 or saline placebo (1:1 ratio).
The companies said data from the phase 2 studies continue to demonstrate strong immunogenicity in adults as well as in children, with acceptable safety and tolerability profiles in both study populations. Pending successful completion of the phase 3 study, Pfizer could potentially submit a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2025.
As per the terms of the collaboration agreement between Pfizer and Valneva, Pfizer will make a $25 million milestone payment to Valneva upon initiation of the Phase 3 study.
VLA15 is the only Lyme disease vaccine candidate currently in clinical development.
The investigational multivalent protein subunit vaccine uses an established mechanism of action for a Lyme disease vaccine that targets the outer surface protein A (OspA) of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that cause Lyme disease.
OspA is a surface protein expressed by the bacteria when present in a tick. Blocking OspA inhibits the bacterium’s ability to leave the tick and infect humans. The vaccine covers the six most common OspA serotypes expressed by the B. burgdorferi sensu lato species prevalent in North America and Europe. VLA15 has demonstrated a strong immune response and satisfactory safety profile in pre-clinical and clinical studies so far.
Valneva and Pfizer entered into a collaboration agreement in April 2020 to co-develop VLA15, with updates to the terms within this agreement made in June 2022.
About Lyme disease
Lyme disease is a systemic infection caused by B. burgdorferi bacteria transmitted to humans by infected Ixodes ticks.
While the true incidence of Lyme disease is unknown, it is estimated to annually affect approximately 476,000 people in the U.S. and 130,000 people in Europe. Early symptoms of Lyme disease (such as a gradually expanding erythematous rash called Erythema migrans or more nonspecific symptoms like fatigue, fever, headache, mild stiff neck, arthralgia or myalgia) are often overlooked or misinterpreted.
Left untreated, the disease can disseminate and cause more serious complications affecting the joints (arthritis), the heart (carditis) or the nervous system. The medical need for vaccination against Lyme disease is steadily increasing as the geographic footprint of the disease widens.