Nanotechnology firm Liquidia partners with PATH on new pneumonia vaccine

News | 12. 13. 2011

Liquidia Technologies

Nanotechnology firm Liquidia partners with PATH on new pneumonia vaccine

North Carolina nanotechnology company Liquidia Technologies is partnering with nonprofit organization PATH to develop a new pneumonia vaccine that could be deployed globally.

Research Triangle Park-based Liquidia is working with PATH to conduct preclinical studies on a “next generation” pneumococcal vaccine that could be more effective than existing vaccines and more efficient to produce. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed. But it’s not the first time the two entities have worked together. Liquidia has also partnered with PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative to develop a new malaria vaccine.

Pneumonia vaccines in the United States have all but eliminated childhood pneumococcal disease. But vaccines are too expensive in the developing world. Even when they are available, they do not cover all variations of the bacterium.

Liquidia’s proprietary “PRINT” technology can control the size and shape of a nanoparticle, which optimizes the delivery of a therapeutic to the cells of the human body. Liquidia says it can use its technology to bring together multiple vaccine components in a nanoparticle, which can optimize a vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Because the Liquidia technology is scalable, it makes vaccine production more cost efficient.

Pneumonia represents a large global market. The World Health Organization estimates pneumonia kills 1.4 million children younger than age 5 each year. More than half of these deaths are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium with many variations that are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

“By improving vaccine performance and reducing manufacturing costs using our PRINT technology, we believe this collaboration has the potential to significantly impact the spread of pneumonia in the developing world,” Liquidia CEO Neal Fowler said in a statement.

Privately-held Liquidia has raised more than $60 million in equity financing. Its investors includes venture capital firms Canaan Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Morningside Venture Investments Limited, Pappas Ventures and Firelake Capital as well as Wilmington, North Carolina-based clinical research organization PPD. Liquidia earlier this year received a $10 million equity investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support vaccine development and commercialization.