Poolbeg to investigate melioidosis vaccine candidate

Melioidosis Burkholderia pseudomallei

Poolbeg Pharma has signed an exclusive agreement with University College Dublin (UCD) through NovaUCD, the university’s knowledge transfer office, for a late preclinical stage vaccine candidate for melioidosis, a disease for which there is no current approved vaccine available.

The vaccine candidate, which is being developed by Poolbeg Pharma as POLB 003, was invented following many years of research by Siobhán McClean at the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science.
McClean completed some of the original research to identify the antigens associated with the melioidosis vaccine candidate at TU Dublin.

Melioidosis, also known as Whitmore’s disease, is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. While predominantly a disease in tropical climates, especially in Southeast Asia and northern Australia where it is widespread, B. psuedomallei was also found along the gulf coast of Mississippi in the U.S. in 2022. It can often be mistaken for other diseases, such as tuberculosis or more common forms of pneumonia.

Disease of interest

Poolbeg Pharma identified melioidosis as an infectious disease of interest because of its rising incidence around the world due to climate change and its resistance to antibiotic treatment. As a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated biothreat, there is an increasing global need to develop effective vaccines and antibiotics to prevent and treat this disease.

Jeremy Skillington, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, said: “Melioidosis presents a growing threat to global health as an infectious disease with no approved vaccine and a high mortality rate. POLB 003 is being developed in line with our capital light approach and represents a significant opportunity for Poolbeg. 

Combined with the company’s expertise in infectious diseases it provides the perfect combination to contribute to the global response to this unmet-medical need and potential to generate significant returns for our investors.”

McClean said: “This partnership with Poolbeg will enable the further development of this important vaccine candidate. We are pleased to be bringing our technology, and Poolbeg’s vaccine development expertise and industry network together to fight this growing infectious disease.”

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