Prokarium Acquires Key Oral Vaccine Technology from Emergent BioSolutions

Published: Jul 09, 2012

July 09, 2012 -- Prokarium Ltd, a spin-out company of Cobra Biologics, the international clinical and commercial manufacturer of biologics and pharmaceuticals, today completed a key technology acquisition from Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE: EBS), a global biopharmaceutical company based in Maryland, USA. The technology includes Emergent’s live Salmonella-based typhoid vaccine TyphellaTM and its genetic technology spi-VECTM. Prokarium will combine TyphellaTM and spi-VECTM with its proprietary genetic and formulation technologies to form VaxonellaTM, a versatile oral vaccine delivery platform.

Emergent has successfully conducted several phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, which have shown TyphellaTM to be safe and immunogenic as a typhoid vaccine. The combination with Prokarium’s plasmid stabilisation technology ORT-VACTM, will enable the delivery of recombinant protein vaccines without needles or adjuvants. Prokarium plans to offer this VaxonellaTM platform to the biotech community on a licensing basis.

Prokarium will focus on the development of a dual oral vaccine against typhoid and ETEC (enterotoxigenic E. coli – a major cause of diarrhoea) for travellers and developing country markets. There are 22 million cases of typhoid every year resulting in 200,000 deaths, so an effective oral vaccine could have a significant impact. Currently there is no dedicated vaccine against ETEC, considered responsible for 300,000 – 500,000 deaths per year, mostly of young children.

Dr Rocky Cranenburgh, Prokarium’s Chief Scientific Officer, said “I am delighted with the acquisition of this technology from Emergent; the combination of their Salmonella vector with Prokarium’s technologies allows us to develop an advanced oral delivery platform which gives Prokarium the potential to revolutionise vaccinations”

For more information about Prokarium, please contact Ted Fjällman, Development Director, on +44 7811 367 729 or email

For media enquiries, please contact Tristan Jervis or Alex Heeley on +44 207 861 3019 or email:

About Vaxonella:

Live, attenuated (weakened) bacteria have been used as vaccines for decades (e.g. the BCG vaccine against TB). Prokarium’s Vaxonella technology advances their use as delivery systems for vaccines against a wide range of infectious diseases by modifying the bacteria to produce a foreign protein from the target pathogen, against which an immune response is directed. Vaxonella technology uses live Salmonella bacteria, which have been genetically modified to make them safe, to carry vaccines and deliver them to the immune system via the lining of the gut. The vaccines are produced from self-replicating DNA molecules called plasmids. With conventional bacteria, these plasmids are rapidly lost when the bacterial cells divide. Vaxonella strains incorporate a mechanism called ORT-VAC that prevents plasmid loss without relying on antibiotic resistance genes which otherwise could potentially transfer to pathogenic bacteria.

The advantages of this approach include the elimination of needles, the stimulation of an effective immune response via mucosal surfaces (the entry route for many pathogens) and a simple, cost-effective manufacturing process regardless of the vaccine antigen.

Prokarium has previously shown its ORT-VAC technology to be effective in pre-clinical models against plague, anthrax and tuberculosis.

About Prokarium

Prokarium is a biotechnology start-up company based in Keele and London, UK. The company develops cutting-edge genetic technologies to create the next generation of oral vaccines. Prokarium is currently looking for investment to develop its first pipeline product, a dual oral vaccine against typhoid and ETEC, a major cause of diarrhoea. Currently there are no vaccines against ETEC, which causes between 300,000–500,000 deaths annually, many of them children. Prokarium is also looking to partner with universities and companies around the world to develop its Vaxonella oral vaccine technology platform for other indications.

About Cobra Biologics

Cobra Biologics is a leading international clinical and commercial manufacturer of biologics and pharmaceuticals with three GMP approved facilities. Cobra offers a broad range of integrated and stand-alone development services, stretching from cell line development through to the commercial supply of investigational medicinal product. Cobra takes pride in manufacturing excellence and being a trusted provider, delivering what we promise and helping our customers to develop drugs for the benefit of patients. Cobra Biologics provides manufacturing solutions to the biologics and pharmaceutical industry covering antibodies, recombinant proteins, viruses, DNA, cellular therapeutics and small molecules.

Back to news