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MBF Therapeutics enlists Smithfield Foods as pig vaccine development partner


Jan 10, 2020 - Animal Pharm

MBF Therapeutics enlists Smithfield Foods as pig vaccine development partner

By: Joseph Harvey

Man's Best Friend Therapeutics (MBFT) has teamed up with Smithfield Foods to work on new swine vaccines.

Ambler, Pennsylvania-based MBFT is developing DNA-based immunotherapeutic checkpoint inhibitor veterinary vaccines. The collaboration will use MBFT's vaccine platform and calcium phosphate-based delivery technology to create gene-based, T-cell-directed vaccines for economically significant swine diseases. 

The aim of the partnership is to use MBFT's technology to make "more effective swine vaccines that produce a robust and durable immune response". The first target for the two partners will be porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

As part of the collaboration, Smithfield will conduct clinical trial work, while MBFT will work with Smithfield's R&D team on the design of the vaccines. North Carolina State University will also aid in the vaccine analysis process.

MBFT stated: "By eliciting responses in both T-cells and B-cells, these new and more effective swine vaccines will have the potential to reduce the use of antibiotics, chronic disease and endemic viral reservoirs in pork production.

"PRRS occurs worldwide in nearly all swine-producing countries and is currently the most economically significant disease that threatens US swine production. Although several inactivated, attenuated vaccines for PRRS are on the market, all of them underperform."

The firm's chief executive Thomas Tillett said the second phase of the collaboration with Smithfield will address the "long-term need for better protective immunity to economically significant porcine viral infections through the development of next-generation DNA vaccines".

He added: "Whether it is taking PRRS protection to the next level, addressing the need for a cross-protective swine influenza vaccine or applying a gene-based immunomodulator approach to solving the urgent need for a safe, cross-protective and durable African swine fever vaccine, MBFT technology offers an innovative approach to vaccine design that is well suited for use in livestock."

Focus on partnerships

Mr Tillett told Animal Pharm this is the company's first research partnership to focus exclusively on porcine vaccines. He added MBFT is aiming to seal other collaborations in the space that will focus specifically on African swine fever or other porcine infectious diseases.

"Our business strategy is built upon the idea of partnerships," he commented. "This is only the latest example. Our expertise is in the discovery and use of gene-based checkpoint inhibitors and immunomodulators and our ability to select the best antigens to use in our products.

"We call this 'Complex Science – Simply Done'. This means the upfront technical piece of this is very complex and challenging but, once we have assembled the right components, the manufacturing of these DNA vaccines is consistent with current industry practices. This means they should provide cost-effective solutions as well."

MBFT also has a partnership with Diamond Animal Health, which carries out all the firm's scale-up and manufacturing. Diamond will lead MBFT's regulatory approval pathway with the USDA.

Another of the company's collaborations is with the Southwest Research Institute, which is aiding with the development of MBFT's proprietary calcium phosphate nanoparticle delivery system.

Last year, MBFT boosted development of its immunotherapeutic treatments by signing an exclusive agreement with the University of North Carolina. The deal will allow the start-up to evaluate the possibility of combining its vaccines with UNC's checkpoint inhibitor 'traps' and a calcium phosphate nanoparticle delivery system.

As well as targeting livestock, the company is aiming to bring MBFT-201 to the market for canine melanoma. The firm previously told Animal Pharm it believes this candidate will receive USDA conditional approval in the second half of 2020 and full registration in 2021.

MBFT recently added Ronald Cravens as its executive vice president of business development. 

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News

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