Conjugate vaccines, composed of polysaccharides covalently linked to a protein, are heralded as one of the most successful public health initiatives. Although conjugate vaccines are proven to save lives, their synthesis is complex, labor intensive, and not conducive for all polysaccharides. To overcome these technical challenges, VaxNewMo has engineered E. coli to recombinantly generate conjugate vaccines in vivo. Key to this process, are a family of conjugating enzymes that covalently attach a polysaccharide to a vaccine carrier protein, bypassing the need for chemical conjugation. This method, termed bioconjugation, is a great simplification of the process conventionally employed for conjugate vaccine synthesis. Bioconjugation has many advantages when compared to conventional chemical conjugation including lower cost of goods, less batch to batch variability, and streamlined production as the entire process is performed within the industrial workhorse E. coli.
VaxNewMo is strategically positioned to generate novel bioconjugate vaccines that other biotech companies cannot as it controls the only conjugating enzyme capable of transferring polysaccharides with glucose at the reducing end (the first sugar of the growing polysaccharide chain). This seemingly minor observation has enormous implications as many important human and animal pathogens produce surface polysaccharides with glucose as the first sugar in their polysaccharide chains.
Glycoengineering bioconjugate vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in E. coli.