To advance a nasal spray vaccine developed by Tulane University researchers to thwart antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, a major cause of pneumonia, into phase one clinical trial, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded Tulane University a contract worth up to $16 million.

Infections in children and the elderly that necessitate hospitalization are increasingly being caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are also on the rise. Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine Elizabeth Norton, PhD, and Jay Kolls, MD, the creators of the vaccine, are working to protect patients before they are even exposed to the viruses, while doctors struggle to identify new forms of medications to combat these so-called superbugs.

The most cost-effective solution is to utilize a vaccination that targets these bacteria to prevent or treat infection in high-risk individuals, according to Norton, the principal investigator and an associate professor of microbiology and immunology. There isn’t a vaccine for this particular type of pneumonia available right now.

With the highest prevalence of severe infections, Klebsiella pneumoniae is the second most common cause of bloodstream infections and the third most common cause of hospital acquired pneumonia. In some parts of Asia, it is also a significant factor in pediatric pneumonia. The Tulane vaccine would target high-risk groups like diabetics, organ transplant recipients, and people with impaired immune systems.

The CladeVax vaccine is made to effectively target the mucosa in the nose, throat, and lungs to defend the area that is most susceptible to infection.

LTA1, a substance that stimulates the immune system, is an adjuvant that Norton created at Tulane that is used in the nasal spray vaccination. The Kolls lab’s unique antigens, which contain outer membrane proteins from the target bacterium, will be coupled with that adjuvant, which is created using a protein obtained from the E. coli bacteria.