Infectious Diseases

Genocea has a long history in infectious diseases. In 2016, Genocea decided to focus on GEN-003 and immuno-oncology research. The following programs have thus been paused and remain partnership opportunities.

Pneumococcus

GEN-004 is a novel T cell vaccine developed from Genocea’s ATLAS™ technology. It is aimed at preventing colonization of the upper airway by all serotypes of pneumococcus. Pneumococcal infections are the leading cause of death in children under age five. Instead of preventing infections caused by only a small number of serotypes of pneumococcus as vaccines currently available on the market do, GEN-004 is designed to provide protection against each of the more than 90 serotypes of pneumococcus, thereby offering potentially universal protection against pneumococcal disease.

GEN-004 has a unique mechanism of action designed to generate a Th17 T cell-mediated immune response, preventing or reducing pneumococcal colonization in the nasopharynx. This colonization is a necessary precursor to infection caused by pneumococcus.

  • There is growing evidence that Th17 CD4+ T cells, a rare type of T cells, play a key role in the control of colonization and immunity to pneumococcal infection.
  • Th17 cells recruit and activate other immune cells to fight off pathogens at mucosal barriers, such as the nose and throat, before they enter the body.

Individuals with underdeveloped or compromised immune systems lack effective Th17 T cell responses and are at a substantially increased risk of contracting pneumococcal disease.

Genocea announced top-line results from a Phase 2 clinical trial for GEN-004 on October 19, 2015. GEN-004 showed consistent reductions versus placebo in the pre-specified endpoints of the rate and density of colonization, but neither of the endpoints achieved statistical significance. GEN-004 was safe and well-tolerated by healthy subjects.

Genocea is currently seeking development partners to advance GEN-004 further. 

Chlamydia

Infections by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis are a significant cause of morbidity worldwide. Chlamydia is the most common cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease accounting for approximately 3 million new infections each year in the United States1 alone and 131 million new infections each year globally2. Cellular immunity through T cells is believed to be critical for managing and potentially preventing infection from chlamydia.

Genocea’s ATLASTM platform has been utilized to screen the T cell immune responses of hundreds of human subjects exposed to chlamydia. As a result, we have identified chlamydia antigen targets that elicit T cell responses preferentially in patients with positive clinical outcomes. These antigen targets, associated with an effective human immune response, could become the core of a therapeutic or prophylactic vaccine that could dramatically improve infection control and reduce the spread of disease worldwide.

Genocea is currently seeking development partners to explore further development of a Chlamydia therapeutic vaccine.

For more information on Chlamydia, please visit the Center for Disease Control.

References:
1 http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats07/trends.htm (CDC,2007)
2 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs110/en/ (WHO,2016) 

Malaria

Malaria is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world. In 2012, more than 600 million cases of malaria were reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming over 600,000 lives, many of them children and largely in developing countries.

Upon infection, the malaria parasite rapidly replicates in the liver. T cells in the liver could potentially kill the cells in which the parasite is hiding before the parasite is released into the bloodstream. Genocea’s T cell target discovery platform, ATLAS, has been applied to identify which components of the malaria parasite can act as T cell targets and become part of novel vaccine candidates.

The malaria program has been funded partially by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Genocea is currently seeking development partners to explore further development of a malaria therapeutic vaccine.

To find out more about Malaria, please visit the Centers for Disease Control.

Recent work

Check out our latest work on Infectious Diseases