The UK’s innovation and knowledge centre (IKC) for synthetic biology SynbiCITE has granted a fund for biotechnology firm Prokarium to use for development of a new chlamydia vaccine.

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with 92 million new cases across the globe and more than 200,000 in the UK per year.

Prokarium CEO Dr Ted Fjällman said: "The new vaccine uses synthetic biology to make the first safe and effective chlamydia vaccine since the 1960s when conventional methods revealed unacceptable side effects and clinical efforts were abandoned.

"We have produced a carrier in the form of a re-engineered strain of salmonella containing the blueprint for the vaccine."

SynbiCITE is providing £377,000 of the £498,000 project, while Prokarium is offering the remaining £121,000.

Under the project, Prokarium, along with its collaborator professor Robin Shattock of ImperialCollege, will use the fund to complete the pre-clinical development of a novel vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease.

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"The new vaccine uses synthetic biology to make the first safe and effective chlamydia vaccine since the 1960s."

After the pre-clinical development, the vaccine will undergo clinical trials that are expected to start in 2017.

SynbiCITE CEO Dr Steve Chambers said: "The need for a chlamydia vaccine is significant and the potential for this approach both for chlamydia and as a model for treating other infections in the medium-term is very encouraging."

According to National Chlamydia Screening Programme report, the NHS is spending £45 per person on screening for chlamydia and is expected to be reduced with the mass vaccination programme for ten to 14 year olds.

Prokarium’s proprietary synthetic biology platform Vaxonella allows producing vaccines using the body’s own immune cells with little or no side-effects and at lower costs than injectable vaccines.

Image: Conjunctivitis due to chlamydia. Photo: courtesy of GerardM.