Boston U accelerator funds vaccine for infant sepsis

CARB-X, a Boston University-led nonprofit that funds projects that focus on antimicrobial stewardship, awarded $467,000 to GlyProVac to develop a maternal vaccine that could prevent sepsis in infants, according to a Feb. 29 news release.

The vaccine, GPV02, works to target a leading cause of neonatal sepsis, Escherichia coli (E.coli). 

"Because newborns at risk for neonatal sepsis are too young to be immunized, the vaccine would be administered to expectant mothers and target bacteria that cause neonatal bloodstream infections in babies," Erin Duffy, PhD, chief of research and development at CARB-X, stated in the release. "The vaccinated mothers would pass antibodies on to their babies in utero and through breastmilk after birth to strengthen their newborns' immune systems, helping them ward off infections."

Antibiotics are typically used to treat cases of neonatal sepsis, but a 2021 study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called into question the effectiveness of the World Health Organization's recommended treatment. The WHO advises neonatal sepsis be treated with a combination of two antibiotics, ampicillin and gentamicin. But the increasing incidence of drug resistance affects how well this treatment works. 

Additionally, neonatal sepsis progresses rapidly and requires immediate treatment with IV fluids and antibiotics, which can pose a public health challenge, according to the news release. Neonates and newborns in low- and middle-income countries are most at risk.

The GPV02 vaccine is the seventh project, and fourth vaccine, to receive funding from CARB-X's 2022-2023 funding call, according to CIDRAP

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