Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (asx:BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, today announced that it has received a contribution of up to 500,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) for the Company’s research and development of a second generation E. coli O157 cattle vaccine. IRAP’s support will offset salary costs and contractor fees associated with the project for the next three years.
“We are pleased to receive this funding from IRAP,” said Mr. Rick Culbert, President, Bioniche One Health. “We have been working with Dr. Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia on the development of a second generation E. coli O157 cattle vaccine, which is expected to be safer to make, more readily produced with higher yields than the first generation vaccine, and may have the potential to cross-protect against other E. coli serotypes.”
While development of the second generation vaccine continues in coming years, the Company’s first generation E. coli O157 cattle vaccine – Econiche – is fully registered in Canada and is available through Canadian veterinarians. In Australia, although not yet registered, the vaccine is approved for importation. In the UK, the product has received Special Treatment Certificate authorization, allowing veterinary surgeons to use the vaccine on visitor open farms.
Human illnesses stemming from E. coli O157 have been linked to beef products (particularly ground beef), vegetables, fruit, juice, water, and contact with animals at petting zoos, farms, and fairs. Approximately two-thirds of all illnesses are associated with contaminated produce and water or direct contact, while one-third are associated with contaminated beef. When humans are infected with E. coli O157, symptoms begin within 3-10 days. These can range from diarrhea and fever to severe bloody diarrhea to Haemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) and death. Long-term studies following patients infected with E. coli O157 have documented secondary illnesses due to hypertension, cardiovascular and kidney disease as well as arthritis.
Approximately 100,000 cases of human infection with E. coli O157 are reported each year in North America. More than 20,000 of these cases are seen in Canada, where the cost of primary and long-term illnesses has been estimated at 240 million per year.
“There is compelling evidence to show that immunization of cattle against E. coli O157 will reduce the shedding of this deadly pathogen, and several modeling studies have been done to demonstrate that human illness would be reduced as a result of this reduction in shedding,” added Mr. Culbert. “Since E. coli O157 does not make cattle ill, the rationale for cattle vaccination is to reduce the amount of E. coli O157 being shed into food, water, and the environment and, in turn, to reduce exposure by people.”
The Company will also explore the ability of the second generation vaccine to cross-protect against other E. coli serotypes. Although E. coli O157 is the most common serotype causing human infection in North America, other serotypes, including O26, O111, O103, O121, O45 and O145, have been identified in other jurisdictions.
Both Econiche and the second generation E. coli O157 vaccine will be produced in the Company’s Animal Health and Food Safety Vaccine Manufacturing Centre in Belleville, which is currently undergoing validation to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards for global production. GMP validation is now expected to be completed by summer, 2013.