BigDNA announces grant of key Hepatitis vaccine patent in Japan
Patent provides broad protection for bacteriophage-based Hepatitis B vaccine in this major jurisdiction
Edinburgh, Scotland, 15th September 2010. Vaccine developer BigDNA has received notification from the Japanese Patent Office that one of its key patents has been granted in Japan. This new development is an important advancement for the Company as it continues to extend its international reach through an aggressive partnering strategy.
“Chronic hepatitis B infection is a significant global health problem and the need for effective preventative and treatment options is particularly urgent in Asia, where approximately 280 million people are living with this serious, life-threatening disease,” said Karen Jervis, Commercial Director of BigDNA. “This development will further enable the Company to develop its platform vaccine delivery technology in ways that allow it to access such populations.”
In February 2010 Edinburgh based BigDNA Ltd successfully raised £2m of funding from the Venture Fund arm of Scottish Enterprise and private investors. This funding enables the Company to develop its platform vaccine delivery technology towards clinical proof of concept.
The technology being developed by Dr. John March and his team at Roslin Biocentre, uses bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) modified so that they are able to deliver a vaccine. These ‘DNA vaccines’ contain the genetic instructions (DNA) of the disease organism rather than using the organism itself, which conventional vaccines rely upon.
Conventional vaccines can be difficult and expensive to make, requiring specialist facilities and expertise, and sometimes fail to work for some diseases. Bacteriophage DNA vaccines offer the potential for extremely rapid development and manufacture, using relatively simple manufacturing processes (weeks rather than months), critical for certain indications such as emerging or pandemic disease
The Company has expanded rapidly in the last two years, having appointed a team of scientists and advisors. The firm also won the title the “Best new life science firm” from regional development agency Scottish Enterprise.
About Hepatitis B
Chronic hepatitis B is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases globally. According to the American Liver Foundation the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is considerably more infectious than HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The World Health Organization estimates that there are approximately 350 million chronic carriers of the hepatitis B virus. Datamonitor estimates that there are an estimated 31.5 million carriers of HBV in Japan, of which approximately 10% are chronically infected. Carriers of the hepatitis B virus have a 200-fold increased chance of developing primary liver cancer, the most common cancer in the world, and a significant number develop cirrhosis of the liver.
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BigDNA Ltd was set up in 2007 by Dr John March, as a spin out from the Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh, to develop and commercialise new vaccination technologies based on modified bacteriophage (bacterial viruses). Based at Roslin BioCentre, Roslin, the company currently employs 17 people.
The Board of Directors is chaired by Lord Roger Freeman. The Company’s impressive Advisory Committee includes Professor (Lady) Noreen Murray, molecular geneticist, William Powlett Smith, former leader of Ernst & Young’s UK biotechnology practice, Douglas Thomson, ex-CEO of SingVax, Jill Makin, ex-Emergent BioSciences Vice President R&D, American scientist Max Gottesman - Revson Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Microbiology at Columbia, Dr John Beadle formerly founder and Chief Medical Officer at PowerMed (sold to Pfizer), Dr Dan McLain, formerly Director of Toxicology at Powderject Vaccines, Dr Steve Abedon, Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology, at The Ohio State University, Columbus and Dr Arvind Mahajan, a cellular microbiologist leading vaccine research on food borne pathogens at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Stimson (University of Strathclyde) joined the Committee in July 2010 as consultant immunologist.
BigDNA technologyThe DNA vaccine is placed inside a bacterial virus, known as a bacteriophage (or phage), with special genetic instructions so that the vaccinated host can make the vaccine itself by reading this DNA. Thus the host, or patient, actually makes the vaccine, rather than it being manufactured externally.
Dr John March, chief executive, BigDNA Ltd
Dr John March is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has a BSc in Molecular Biology and a PhD in DNA Replication, and an MBA from the University of Dundee. He has held many important research positions including at the Dept of Molecular Biology at Edinburgh University, the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, and Harvard Medical School, Boston USA. He was a research fellow at the Centre for Genome Research University of Edinburgh. Amongst very many professional memberships, he sits on the review panel of DEFRA, Exotic Disease Research Programme. He is an enterprise fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an award winner of the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Award. He has published many papers on Bacteriophages and Biotechnology, vaccines, gene therapy and antibacterials, and is the key inventor on the patents for Bacteriophage-mediated immunisation.