A Completely Unique Approach to DNA Vaccines
Pharos Biologicals is a recently formed company whose immediate objective is developing a vaccine against Zika influenza virus, to be followed closely by development of vaccines against other flavivirus and influenza virus pathogens. Vaccine design is based on commercially proven technology that goes by the acronym “LAMP” that was developed at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM) by Dr. J. Thomas August and patented by JHUSOM. This technology was recently commercially validated by the $300 million sale of another company’s license of the LAMP patent for allergen vaccines to Astellas Pharma, a large global pharmaceutical company. The transaction has been described as the largest patent license royalty in the history of Johns Hopkins University.
Pharos Biologicals owns the worldwide licenses to apply the Johns Hopkins LAMP patents' technology to flaviviruses and influenza, plus the licensing of the nanosphere technology that will be used to deliver the vaccine to patients. The company has already initiated studies of the Zika vaccine and its nanosphere delivery in non-human primates and anticipates that Phase 1 human trials will be ready to commence by autumn of 2016.
To achieve its vaccine development objectives, Pharos Biologicals utilizes three cutting edge, yet proven, technologies developed and patented at Johns Hopkins:
The LAMP Vaccine Platform.
The antigen protein sequences are encoded as an antigen/LAMP chimera construct that offers critical advantages as a vaccine. This DNA vaccine replaces attenuated live virus vaccines and is both much safer and can be more rapidly developed than conventional vaccines. Pharos Biologicals holds worldwide licenses to Johns Hopkins LAMP patents for flaviviruses and influenza.
Nanosphere DNA Vaccine Delivery.
Although development of an effective vaccine requires an effective DNA vaccine construct, it also requires antigen delivery to the immune response cells of the vaccinated subject. Pharos Biologicals holds worldwide licenses to proprietary nanosphere technologies for delivery of the antigen/LAMP chimera construct to the lymphatic system and regional lymph nodes of vaccinated subjects.
Bioinformatic analysis in the design of DNA vaccines.
Developing effective vaccines requires large-scale analysis of pathogen protein structure. Based on Dr. August’s longstanding work with leading bioinformatics specialists at the National University of Singapore when he was Director of Johns Hopkins Singapore, a bioinformatics subsidiary, Pharos Bioinformatics Pty Ltd, has been established in Singapore. To date, Pharos Bioinformatics has analyzed the protein sequences of all reported human Zika viruses in order to identify and select sequences for encoding as antigens in the DNA vaccine. This facility also supports Pharos Biologicals long-term plans for targeting dengue and other flavivirus pathogens, and influenza.