Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd (OET) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a £2M contract from Innovate UK as part of the ‘Vaccines for Global Epidemics’ Round 2 competition. The award will allow OET to continue its ongoing work in developing the first economically viable vaccine against Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) virus.
The Vaccines for Global Epidemics competition supports the development of candidate vaccines and vaccine platform technologies at the preclinical stage. The aim is to enable an effective and rapid response during future outbreaks of diseases identified by the UK Vaccine Network. The competition is wholly funded by the Government Official Development Assistance, through the Small Business Research Initiative and the Department of Health, with the aim that vaccines developed as part of the competition will be appropriate for use in low and middle-income countries and outbreak settings.
The project led by OET’s CEO Professor Robert Possee is part of a consortium of leading UK experts in vaccine development, CCHF virus, and baculovirus expression technologies, including Professor Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, Professor Roger Hewson and Dr Stuart Dowall from The National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE), Salisbury and Professor Linda King from Oxford Brookes University.
“The project brings together unique facilities, established expertise on CCHF virus and novel expression strategies to develop new preclinical vaccine approaches to this most widespread viral haemorrhagic fever.” Professor Roger Hewson, PHE
CCHF is a severe virus disease endemic to Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and some Asian countries. The virus is transmitted to humans via tick bites or contact with virus-infected livestock. Affected individuals experience intense flu-like symptoms, which will often progress to more serious effects including bleeding into the skin and mucosal surfaces, kidney and liver failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The mortality rate of CCHF is up to 40% with survivors often being left with long term, debilitating health problems. Incidences of CCHF are increasing due to a number of factors including the geographical spread of the tick vector, associated with climate change, and trade of non-symptomatic livestock from endemic regions to other previously unaffected areas. Although outbreaks of CCHF are not currently on the same scale as those of other notable virus diseases (e.g., Ebola, Zika), the threat of a widespread epidemic remains and the economic and social impact on affected communities is high, thus the need for an effective and affordable vaccine is urgent.
Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd (OET) emerged from a collaboration between Oxford Brookes University and the Natural Environment Research Council. It provides products, services and consultancy to the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries from its base in Oxford, England, which has quickly become a world renowned centre of excellence for application of the baculovirus expression vector system in insect cells.
The Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford was founded in 2005 to develop innovative vaccines against major global diseases. It focuses on both diseases in humans and in livestock and tests new vaccine approaches in parallel in different species. A major theme is translational research involving the rapid early-stage development and assessment of new vaccines in clinical trials.
Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.
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