A biotechnology firm has agreed a sponsored research agreement with The University of Oxford for the development of a vaccine against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Oxford-based SpyBiotech announced the collaboration on May 23.

EBV, a common virus linked to various cancers and multiple sclerosis, has no currently available vaccines or treatments.

The innovative project will merge the university's research capabilities with SpyBiotech's SPYVLP platform technology.

The aim is to advance three vaccine candidates and then test them via a Phase I clinical trial.

Mark Leuchtenberger, chief executive officer of SpyBiotech, emphasised the urgency of their research.

He said: "This research collaboration is an important step forward on a commonly spread virus with no currently available vaccines or therapeutics for its prevention or spread."

He went on to highlight that "studies have found that EBV triggers a range of very serious health conditions including certain cancers and multiple sclerosis."

This is Oxfordshire:

As part of the deal, SpyBiotech will provide Oxford researchers with access to its vaccine platform.

The Oxford team will then work to push the research into a Phase 1 trial conducted through the university.

The company's novel SpyVLP vaccine platform uses a proprietary "superglue" technology.

This technology allows antigens to bind to vaccine delivery platforms thereby minimising delivery risk and boosting efficacy.

Sumi Biswas, Ph.D, president and CSO of SpyBiotech, added: "We are very keen to progress these vaccine candidates that target multiple EBV antigens to Phase I clinical trials with Professor Sandy Douglas and his team at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford after seeing the promising pre-clinical data generated."

Coincidentally, SpyBiotech is conducting a Phase I trial right now.

This trial assesses the safety and efficacy of its HCMV vaccine.

This UK-based study adopts a six-month dosing schedule.

EBV, transmitted via saliva, is one of the most commonly spread human viruses.

While most people recover in a few weeks, EBV can lead to severe health conditions including meningitis, encephalitis and certain cancers.

People with multiple sclerosis and some lymphomas are more likely to have been infected with the virus.

SpyBiotech was created by the University of Oxford, Oxford Science Enterprises, and Google Ventures in 2017.

Having raised $32.5 million in a Series A equity financing in 2021, they hold exclusive rights to apply, commercialise and sub-license the SpyTag/SpyCatcher and related "superglue" technologies in vaccine development.