Univax Biologics Inc. said Friday that it has formalized itscollaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes andDigestive and Kidney Diseases to develop a conjugated vaccineagainst Staphylococcus aureus.

S. aureus most commonly causes gram-positive sepsis andbacteremia. "Staph is a real clinical headache because it'sresistant to so many antibiotics," said W. Scott Harkonen, vicepresident of medical and regulatory affairs at Univax. "We'redown to about one drug now, and it's making many people veryuneasy."

The research, which is now being done under a cooperativeresearch and development agreement (CRADA), is focusing onpreparation of a vaccine consisting of the capsularpolysaccharide of S. aureus and inactivated Pseudomonasaeruginosa exoprotein A.

The capsular polysaccharide is an antigen derived from the cellwall of the bacterium. The Pseudomonas portion consists of agenetically engineered detoxified Pseudomonas toxin that hasan adjuvant-like effect, boosting the immune response.

The vaccine is in Phase I trials.

Privately held Univax of Rockville, Md., said it is completing anexclusive licensing agreement with the National Institutes ofHealth for the technology. -- KB

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