Human trials to begin on SA-made universal pneumococcal vaccine

Professor James Paton in a laboratory

Professor James Paton, Chief Scientific Officer for GPN Vaccines and Director of the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Adelaide, has led the development of a universal pneumococcal vaccine.

South Australian biotech company GPN Vaccines in collaboration with the University of Adelaide has developed a new, universal vaccine against the deadly bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.

A clinical trial to assess the vaccine, called Gamma-PN, is expected to commence in 50 to 69 year olds at CMAX – a leading clinical trial centre in Adelaide - in January, with follow-up research conducted at the University of Adelaide.

Found in the respiratory tract of most people, Streptococcus pneumoniae can invade deeper tissues and cause life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, septicaemia, and meningitis, as well as ear infections in children.

Currently available vaccines cover up to 23 types of the bacterium, whereas Gamma-PN has been designed to protect against all 100 known types, as well as any future types that may emerge.

The clinical trial has been generously supported by the South Australian Government’s Research Commercialisation Startup Fund and private investors from both Australia and overseas.

A public Q&A session titled – “Pneumococcus: the forgotten pathogen?” – featuring Professor James Paton and hosted by Professor Rob Morrison OAM will be held at the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building on Tuesday, 8 November from 5pm-6pm. Please visit to register.

Quotes attributable to Professor James Paton, Chief Scientific Officer, GPN Vaccines; and Director, Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, The University of Adelaide:

Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as the pneumococcus, is considered one of the biggest bacterial killers in the world and is a significant concern for children and the elderly. Our research to date has shown Gamma-PN is safe, produces a very strong immune response and offers protection against all pneumococcal types tested. It also works better without an adjuvant, meaning it does not contain aluminium like many other vaccines.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Erin Brazel, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, The University of Adelaide:

“Current pneumococcal vaccines are complex and expensive to produce, which has limited their use in low and middle-income countries. We have designed Gamma-PN to be far simpler and cheaper to make, meaning it can be more accessible to regions where there remains a high burden of disease.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Lauren Giorgio, Chief Operating Officer, GPN Vaccines:

“The success we've had to date has been underpinned by access to world-class research, development, and manufacturing facilities in Adelaide, generous local investors and a state government committed to supporting innovation. We are delighted to be able to manufacture our vaccine at the newly-established and TGA-certified BioCina facility at Thebarton.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), The University of Adelaide:

“To have impact, vaccines must be safe and easy to biomanufacture. Gamma-PN is unique in terms of its ability to offer a strong and broad biological response while being easy to manufacture. The University, as a global top 100 powerhouse, is proud to partner with GPN Vaccines and BioCina to drive positive health impact for the world, from South Australia.”

Quotes attributable to the Hon. Dr Susan Close MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

Developing a more effective vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae is a global health priority. The South Australian Government is proud to have supported GPN Vaccines in its early stages, with $1 million granted through the Research and Innovation Fund, and it’s wonderful to see this biotech startup reach the point of clinical trials.  Our state boasts world-leading health and medical researchers and infrastructure – translating this strength into widespread health and economic outcomes is a priority of this government.”  

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