Plague is a serious medical condition recognized by public health authorities globally as a potential agent of bioterrorism.
Creating and testing a solid dose vaccine against plague is the goal of a collaborative agreement between Enesi Pharma and scientists at the Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) at the University of Oxford.1
Plague is a serious infectious disease with a high mortality rate unless treated early with antibiotics.1 There are 3 forms of plague—bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic2—and no approved vaccine available.1-2
According to the World Health Organization, most cases of plague since 1990 have occurred in Africa (particularly in Madagascar), however, outbreaks have been reported worldwide, including in the United States.1
Plague is also recognized by public health authorities globally as a potential agent of bioterrorism with Y. pestis classed as a Category A priority pathogen by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and considered a priority pathogen by the UK Vaccine Network based on the high risk that plague poses to national security and public health.1
People most commonly acquire plague when they are bitten by a flea that is infected with the plague bacteria, according to the CDC. Individuals can also become infected from direct contact with infected tissues or fluids while handling an animal that is sick with or that has died from plague, and from inhaling respiratory droplets after close contact with cats and humans with pneumonic plague.2
"Vaccination represents a foundation of healthcare globally and our goal at OVG is to apply innovation to ensure people are protected from serious but preventable diseases wherever they live. We are pleased therefore that the collaboration with Enesi, through ImplaVax and solid dose vaccines, potentially offers an approach that could help address this challenge,” said Christine Rollier, professor, OVG, in a prepared statement.1
Enesi and OVG aim to create a stable and easy-to-use solid dose plague vaccine for use in areas around the world where outbreaks occur as well as for building strategic stockpiles as part of government preparedness for rapid deployment in the event of a bioterrorism incident.1
The collaboration will leverage Enesi's needle-free technology (ImplaVax) and a proprietary vaccine against Y. pestis developed by OVG, based on a ChAdOx adenovirus vector.1
ImplaVax is a novel formulation and needle-free device technology that enables solid dose vaccine implants to be delivered quickly under the skin. The aim of the technology is for health care providers or individuals themselves to administer the vaccine using a simple, convenient, and reusable needle-free device.1
“This is our first collaboration to develop vaccines for infectious diseases based on adenovirus vectors and represents important progress with our broad strategy to assess the potential of our ImplaVax technology with the major immunogenic platforms on which global vaccines are based,” said David Hipkiss, CEO, Enesi, in a prepared statement.1 “Plague is a clear priority for governments and public health organizations around the world and there is a real need for a vaccine where none currently exists. We look forward to advancing this exciting project with OVG and benefiting from their insight to the requirements for successful vaccine development."
Human plague occurs in areas where the bacteria are present in wild rodent populations. Risks are generally highest in rural and semi-rural areas, including homes that provide food and shelter for various ground squirrels, chipmunks and wood rats, or other areas where you may encounter rodents. In the United States, plague is most common in the southwestern states, particularly New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.2