French drug maker Sanofi announced today that it has entered an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialize a vaccine for extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC).
Under the agreement, Sanofi will pay Janssen $175 million upfront, and the two companies will co-fund future research and development costs for ExPEC9V, a 9-valent ExPEC vaccine developed by Janssen. The experimental vaccine is currently being tested against placebo in a phase 3 trial to evaluate its efficacy in preventing invasive E coli disease (IED) caused by ExPEC9v O-serotypes in patients over 60 years of age.
E coli is the most common gram-negative bacterial pathogen in humans and is commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. But it can move outside the GI tract and enter normally sterile parts of the body, like the urinary tract and the bloodstream, and cause IED. ExPEC strains cause an estimated 10 million cases of IED annually and are also a leading cause of sepsis, particularly in older adults with chronic illnesses.
In addition, a rise in multidrug-resistant ExPEC strains in recent years has contributed to increased treatment failure and mortality.
“E. coli is a significant cause of sepsis, mortality, and antimicrobial resistance in older adults, and the number of cases is rising as the population ages," Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi's executive vice president for vaccines, said in a company press release. "In line with our commitment to design and deliver first- or best-in-class medicines and vaccines, this agreement with Janssen aims to positively impact public health by reducing hospitalization costs and the burden on health systems associated with ExPEC and help older adults around the world to live longer, healthier lives."