Pacific Gene Tech (PGT) is an Asian vaccine company developing and commercialising first and/or best-in-class vaccines for areas of high unmet or under-served needs in food safety and livestock animal health. While working on livestock diseases, they discovered that one of their proprietary platforms has broad cross-protection for both human and livestock industries. Led by an experienced management team and advised by leading industry commercial and scientific advisors, PGT is now moving to focus on human vaccines. Join them at Phar-East 2018 in Singapore on 1-2 March 2018 and find out more about how they are doing it.
Q: PGT has traditionally been focused in the animal vaccines industry, what inspired the change of focus to expand into human vaccines?
A: The focus was not so much of a change – from Day 1 of establishing PGT and in-licensing the Aegis vaccine platform, we saw the potential of extending it into human vaccine development. The key focus area for our vaccine platform is on zoonotic diseases, which are diseases spread between animals and people. Hence as part of the in-licensing agreement from the University of Arkansas, we have exclusive worldwide Intellectual Property rights to Aegis and these rights apply to all human and animal vaccines.
In fact, our successful animal vaccines are now being modified for human vaccine applications where there are related human pathogens. We completed a mouse trial at AFRIMS (WRAIR) using an inactivated vaccine administered orally against an ETEC challenge and the vaccine demonstrated protection. According to the WHO, ETEC (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli) is endemic in over 150 countries. In children under five in the developing world, there are some 200 million ETEC-related diarrhea episodes per annum and 400,000 deaths. ETEC is also a major cause of traveler’s’ diarrhea with over 10 million travellers estimated to contract ETEC annually. There are currently no vaccines available.
Please tell us a little bit more about Aegis and how it helps in human vaccine development.
A: The Aegis Vaccine Platform was discovered and developed by research institutions in the US under sponsorship and funding by the National Research Council (NRC) and USDA.
The Aegis Vaccine Platform offers a new paradigm in cross protective vaccines. Existing vaccines only offer protection against strains present in the vaccine with little or no cross protection. Genetic shifts, mutations and appearance of different strains will render many vaccines ineffective. An example is influenza where influenza viruses are constantly mutating. When such a genetic “shift” occurs like in 2009, an H1N1 virus with a new combination of genes emerged to infect people and quickly spread, it caused a pandemic. The vaccines on the market were not protective against these changes and most people, including those that had a flu shot, had little or no protection against the new virus.
Aegis vaccines are recombinant microbial-vectored vaccines which offer broad spectrum protection against pathogen strains using single conserved antigens. This cross protection addresses the problem of mutation and also reduces or eliminates the need for multiple vaccines.
In addition, Aegis vaccines can deliver inactivated vaccines orally. Traditionally, inactivated vaccines are mainly available as injectables. By administering through the oral route, we can substantially lower delivery costs and the psychological barriers associated with injectables.
A pathogen that affects both animals and humans often has a similar pathogenesis in both, and an animal vaccine effective against it can also be effective in humans. Therefore, an effective, low cost animal vaccine can provide proof of concept and a solid foundation on which to also develop low cost human vaccines. Our human vaccine program will be able to leverage 8 years of successful research and development in animal vaccines at PGT.
What is the biggest challenge operating a biotech company in Asia? What are the other countries which PGT will be targeting in Asia?
A: The biggest challenges for a biotech company in Asia is finding investors that understand the technology as well as understanding the investment horizons related to drug/vaccine development.
PGT is currently working with R&D partners and commercializing our products throughout Asia including Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand. We hope to build a greater presence and commercialization footprint in China, India and the rest of Asia.
Where do you see PGT in the next 5 years?
A: On the animal health side, PGT expects to have its two leading vaccine commercialized globally. Our vaccines are currently in registration in the US and other countries will follow.
On the human vaccine side, we are preparing to separate the human vaccine program from PGT and continue to develop human vaccine applications against certain infectious diseases using our vaccine and adjuvant technology. The current human vaccine pipeline includes candidates for unmet needs such as enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), non-typhoidal Salmonella, Shigella, Malaria (Plasmodium vivax) and other parasites. We may also in-license complementary vaccine technologies to support our focus on infectious diseases
Please give us a quick preview on what you will be sharing at Phar-East 2018.
A: At Phar-East conference, we will be presenting an introduction to our human program and pipeline at the Biotech innovation track. We will also be presenting at the Vaccines track to discuss our novel adjuvant/delivery system “Hercules” platform. Hercules is already commercialized in SE Asia in animal vaccine applications and we believe it has very unique properties for human vaccine development as demonstrated in our current trials. Hercules allows for oral delivery of antigens and promotes secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) on mucous membranes, preventing pathogen invasion, even in inactivated vaccines. This crucial immune response is typically only seen in live vaccines. We will also be presenting the advantages of the Aegis platform and the use for infectious diseases.
Who would you like to meet at Phar-East 2018?
A: We are interested to meet R&D collaborators for our vaccine programs, particularly our human vaccine candidates , strategic investors and interested out-licensing partners for our vaccine and adjuvant technologies.
Tim Collard, CEO and Cindy Tsang, Director of Business Development of PGT will be speaking at Phar-East 2018. Find out more from our website: www.terrapinn.com/phareast
About Phar-East 2018
From humble beginnings as BioMedical Asia in 2008, BioPharma Asia has attracted close to 20,000 attendees over the last 10 years. Established as a true one-stop shop for all things biopharma, our 2018 program is rebranded into Phar East 2018 to explore innovation in clinical trials, manufacturing, supply chain, market access, partnering, pricing, and more without restricting itself on the type and nature of therapeutic products. Visit our website for more information: www.terrapinn.com/phar-east/