Scientist at SSI receives a grant for further development of a vaccine against resistant enteropathogen

Scientists at SSI have developed a new potential vaccine against infections from the enteropathogen, Clostridium difficile (CD).

A grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation of 2.6 million DKK is received with the purpose of further developing the vaccine as well as initiating pre-clinical studies. The grant is a collaboration with department of Chemistry at Copenhagen University.

The vaccine consists of two toxins, which are produced by the bacteria. The toxins are purified from the bacteria followed by treatment with a new method which quickly, efficiently and gently inactivates the toxins in a way in which they still activate the immune defense without causing illness. 

Often toxins are inactivated by formaldehyde treatment and this method has earlier showed promising result in a vaccine against CD infection.

“However, there is a number of unfortunate circumstances connected to formaldehyde treatment. For instance, formaldehyde treatment takes several weeks in order to obtain sufficient inactivation and to make sure that the activity does not revert. Also, formaldehyde is a carcinogen, which is toxic to work with, and which should be completely removed before being injected into people. With this new method we can completely avoid these issues,” says René Jørgensen, Senior researcher at department of Bacteria, Parasites and Fungi, who is the recipient of the grant.

Highly infectious and often resistant bacterium

C. difficile is the primary cause of hospital-associated infectious diarrhea in the western world. The bacterium is highly contagious and often resistant to antibiotics. The infection typically arises as a result of prolonged patient treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics, which creates a disturbance in the gut flora and provides an opportunity for CD to colonize. The current treatment options are limited to a few antibiotics. In addition, CD infections lead to prolonged hospital stays including expensive treatment under isolation.

Goal is to test and optimize the method

The grant will give the opportunity for Aria Aminzadeh to start as a PhD student at SSI. During his Masters Aria contributed greatly to the development of the new inactivation method. The goal for Aria will be to further optimize the method, determine the stability and durability as well as its ability to activate the immune system. Furthermore, the goal is to protect the method with a patent since the method most likely is applicable on other vaccine candidates.

René Jørgensen og Aria Aminzadeh

René Jørgensen, Senior researcher at SSI who has received the grant and Aria Aminzadeh, who can now begin as a PhD student at SSI with focus on optimization of the new inactivation method.

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René Jørgensen, MSc, PhD
Forskningsleder/Senior Researcher

Statens Serum Institut
Department of Microbiological Diagnostics
Building 46, room 204
5 Artillerivej
DK-2300 Copenhagen

Tel. lab +45 3268 8567
Tel. office +45 3268 3895