Licensing Agreement with Codagenix Advances Next Generation Viral Vaccines
The research team developing next generation viral vaccines, from left: Rob Coleman, Eckard Wimmer, Steffen Mueller, and Steven Skiena.
Stony Brook, NY – November 30, 2016 – Stony Brook University, through the Research Foundation for the State of New York, has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Codagenix, Inc., to commercialize a platform technology to develop a pipeline of live attenuated vaccines against viral infections in people and animals. The technology relies on software to re-design the genomes of potentially harmful viruses to make them safe and effective vaccines. The technology stems from research in the laboratory of Eckard Wimmer, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. The lead indication for vaccine development generated is a vaccine against Seasonal Influenza slated for Phase I human clinical trials in 2017.
Stony Brook University and Codagenix researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Eckard Wimmer (center, in back). Research Scientist Charles Stauft holds a Zika virus assay from the laboratory. Next to Dr. Wimmer are Rob Coleman, left, and Steffen Mueller of Codagenix. Also pictured is Steven Skiena, a Stony Brook computer scientist.
Dr. Wimmer, along with Steffen Mueller, PhD, Codagenix President and Chief Science Officer, and J. Robert Coleman, PhD, Codagenix Chief Operating officer, worked as colleagues for years in Dr. Wimmer’s laboratory examining and experimenting with the genes of viruses. By collaborating with Stony Brook scientists Bruce Futcher, PhD, in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, and Steven Skiena, PhD, in the Department of Computer Science, they discovered a way using gene manipulation and computer algorithms to “re-code” the genes of viruses. This re-coding process makes viruses extremely weak and thus ideal candidates as ultra-low dose attenuated vaccines.
"The advantage to our strategy and technology behind it is that we can design virus vaccine candidates quickly,” said Dr. Wimmer. “These candidates yield weak but stable microbes and can be synthesized in just a few weeks for testing.”
The technology has been shown to be effective against numerous viruses including ZIka, Dengue, and RSV all of which are in preclinical testing. The development of this pipeline of vaccines can be seen in numerous scientific papers since 2008, including a paper in Science, PNAS, National Biotechnology and most recently in 2015 in MBIo.
The licensing agreement enables Codgenix to develop and potentially market next generation vaccines using software-based gene design and whole viral synthesis to create low-dose, attenuated virus vaccines. The company expects to use this design to first test its vaccine against influenza; however, there are plans for human testing of their Zika and other vaccine candidates. Codagenix is also in partnership with a large agricultural company to make vaccines using the technology for companion and agricultural animals.
“There is a growing need for vaccines that work and that can be made rapidly, as evident by the Zika epidemic and other diseases,” COO J. Robert Coleman said. “The SUNY-RF ‘disruptive’ genome recoding technology shakes up the way vaccines are currently made, and the approach provides a rational means to designing vaccines against multiple targets.”
To date Codagenix has received over $6 million in funding to develop the vaccines. In 2015, the company received $4 million from Roslyn, NY-based Topspin Fund, a venture capital firm. Approximately $2 million came from National Institute of Health and U.S. Department of Agriculture grants.
About Stony Brook University
Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide. It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.
Media Relations Manager, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University