RML Vaccine Concept Awarded For Innovation

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Biotechnology group has recognized work by scientists from Rocky Mountain Laboratories as one of the most innovative concepts for potential product development.

At this year's annual meeting, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) cited vaccine work by Harlan Caldwell, Ph.D., and microbiologist Deborah D. Crane of Hamilton with this top honor. Dr. Caldwell and his research group are working to develop a vaccine to prevent Chlamydia trachomatis infection. The 15 varieties of C. trachomatis cause a range of diseases, from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to a blinding eye disease.

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"We are extremely pleased that leaders in the biotechnology sector recognized our work as potentially significant to industry partners," says Dr. Caldwell. He noted that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which oversees RML, has filed a patent for the vaccine concept. Anna Amar of the NIAID Office of Technology Development presented information about the C. trachomatis work at the BIO meeting and is helping to identify pharmaceutical collaborators as the project evolves.

The vaccine that Dr. Caldwell's group is testing is the only single-component vaccine that can protect against all 15 chlamydia varieties. Their studies have already shown that the vaccine can prevent laboratory cells from becoming infected. They currently are testing it in animals.

Chlamydial diseases afflict hundreds of millions of people worldwide: more than 90 million people have chlamydial STIs, and an additional 148 million people have active trachoma, 15 percent of whom are blind because of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, physicians reported more than 900,000 cases of sexually transmitted chlamydia in 2004, making it the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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