The Viennese biotech boutique Themis has reported rapid progress in the development of two highly efficient vaccines against Dengue and Chikungunya fever. In the just concluded preclinical studies, the two vaccine candidates, based on a technology by the Parisian Pasteur Institute, displayed exceedingly good efficacy. With a single vaccination against Chikungunya it was possible to develop full vaccination protection. The Dengue fever vaccine candidate proved effective against all of the four known serotypes of this infection. On the basis of these excellent results, Themis will start the clinical phase I study for both vaccines before the end of this year.
The Viennese biotech company Themis Bioscience GmbH today released data from two preclinical programs for the development of vaccines against Dengue and Chikungunya fever. Both diseases already cause massive problems in tropical countries and, due to increased foreign travel, are also becoming an increasing threat to Western industrialized nations. The currently released data convincingly confirm the technology platform "Themaxyn" developed by Themis: Both of the vaccine candidates for Dengue fever and for Chikungunya fever achieved significantly higher survival rates compared with the control groups.
CEO and founder of Themis, Dr. Erich Tauber commented: "Our Themaxyn platform is based on a standard vaccination against measles. In addition to its excellent safety and production profiles, it has also proven its high efficiency millions of times. We are actually using this vaccine as a kind of Trojan horse: Gene sequences of the pathogens with a length of up to 5,000 base pairs are 'smuggled in' and ultimately lead to the immunization of the vaccinated individual."
The ability to integrate such large sequences in the vector is a blessing for the development of a Dengue fever vaccine. There are four serotypes of the pathogen known worldwide and immunization against one serotype does not protect against infection by another – on the contrary: The probability of serious consequences increases considerably. A truly efficient vaccine against Dengue fever therefore has to protect against all four serotypes at the same time. This is exactly what the vaccine candidate from Themis does, thanks to the possibility of inserting long gene sequences. This means that four epitopes – one from each serotype – can be expressed simultaneously to allow a tetravalent vaccine.
According to Dr. Tauber: "Effective vaccines against Dengue fever must be effective against all four Dengue virus strains. Our technology allows this with a single vector and we have seen very promising data from animal models. Other studies on dosing and administration are currently underway, and the results will go directly into the phase I clinical study which we plan to start before the end of this year." In addition to this, the Themis team is already developing vaccine candidates of the second generation against Dengue fever – and securing options for itself for the development of vaccines against yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile Fever and further undisclosed targets on the basis of the Themaxyn platform.
This means that the development pipeline of the company is currently full to the brim and a substantial target of the corporate strategy has been achieved. The business model of the biotech boutique provides for the continuous and simultaneous development of several vaccine candidates at its Vienna location. Successful candidates will be sold at ideal points of the value-added chain and the revenue reinvested in the company's own R&D.
Themis Bioscience GmbH develops vaccines against infectious diseases. The company focuses on emerging tropical infectious diseases and develops vaccines from the preclinical to the early clinical phase. Initial vaccine candidates are currently being developed against Dengue, Chikungunya and yellow fever, with vaccines against other diseases a future possibility. The company's own Themaxyn technology platform, which has been licensed by the internationally respected Pasteur Institute in Paris, forms the basis for all vaccine candidates of the Vienna-based company. This platform is highly innovative and fully protected by patents.