LONDON ¿ Actinova Ltd., of Cambridge, U.K., has established a three-way alliance to develop a vaccine for the prevention of strep throat, or upper respiratory tract bacterial infections, with the Cooperative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology (CRC) and the Queensland Institute for Medical Research (QIMR), both based in Brisbane, Australia.

Development of a vaccine for strep throat, which is caused by the group of bacteria known as Group A streptococci, is complicated by the large variation in the composition of the cell surface of the different strains of bacteria within the group. These differences make it difficult for the immune system to recognize and mount an effective immune response against all the strains.

Steven Powell, CEO of Actinova, said, ¿As part of our ongoing Group A streptococcus vaccine project, we have identified regions of the cell surface that are structurally identical in a significant proportion of Group A strains.¿

Over the next two years, Actinova will fund a collaborative program in Australia to accelerate development of a sub unit Group A vaccine. In return, the company will get exclusive access to certain CRC/QIMR technologies and resources. It will also acquire commercial rights to certain existing patents, and to any new patents arising from the collaboration.

According to Actinova, there are an estimated 35 million cases per year of strep throat in Europe and North America. Although antibiotic treatment is effective, it puts a considerable burden on resources and is contributing to antibiotic resistance. n