Stony Brook University and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have embarked on a research collaboration of at least two years to produce a new inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) based on novel highly attenuated polio viral seed strains developed by two Stony Brook researchers.
Those researchers are Dr. Eckard Wimmer, a distinguished professor and award-winning scientist, and Dr. Jeronimo Cello, a research assistant professor, both in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Biology.
Wimmer said that the deadly virus still persists even in the face of progress, and that development of a new vaccine is extremely important. Currently, he said, IPV is being produced from highly neurovirulent polioviruses. But Wimmer and Cello developed inactive viral seed strains that "keep the antigenic makeup of the wild-type viruses, but in contrast are void of their neurovirulence." Wimmer said that the demand for IPV will increase vastly in the future but the virulent strains pose a risk to that vaccine production technique – "hence the call for novel attenuated seed viruses for IPV,” he said.
“The new virus cannot make proteins as easily in neuronal cells,” he said. “When the virus gets recognized by the immune system it will induce a protective immune response as if this were the dangerous virus. If it were to get into the brain it doesn’t do any harm because of the modifications that we put into the RNA. Our vaccine candidates for IPV have the potential to be as good as the current inactivated poliovirus vaccine but without the dangers of the wild-type virus.”
Benjamin Hsiao, vice president for research at SBU, said the seed strains created by Wimmer and Cello could potentially lead to a safer and more effective IPV.
"Such a vaccine will fill a critical need in achieving and maintaining global polio eradication,” said Benjamin Hsiao, Vice President for Research at Stony Brook University. "We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Janssen to bring this technology to market in the effort to eradicate this devastating disease."
The project is currently in the preclinical/development stage. The agreement allows for an exclusive license under patents owned by Stony Brook; financial terms were not publicized.