GSK announced Thursday morning that it signed an in-license agreement with LimmaTech Biologics to further develop and commercialize a vaccine candidate for shigella. 

The deal enables LimmaTech to work on the quadrivalent bioconjugate vaccine candidate that GSK acquired from the Swiss biotech’s predecessor, GlycoXavyn, in 2015.

Three years later, LimmaTech signed a research collaboration agreement with GSK to develop bioconjugate antigen-based vaccines, including a monovalent shigella vaccine, in cooperation with the Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation. 

In light of positive results from a proof-of-concept human challenge clinical trial for the monovalent shot, LimmaTech began developing a multivalent vaccine for shigella with a grant GSK received from the Wellcome Trust.

Results from a Phase I/II study of the multivalent vaccine are expected later this year.

Shigella bacteria cause an infection called shigellosis, which results in nearly 500,000 infections in the U.S. each year along with an estimated $93 million in direct medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, there are between 80 million to 165 million cases of this intestinal disease globally each year.

“LimmaTech will give this candidate vaccine the greatest chance of success, while GSK continues to use its expertise to progress another vaccine in clinical development using a GSK proprietary vaccine platform technology called GMMA,” GSK’s chief health officer Thomas Breuer said in a statement. “Having more than one vaccine could improve supply security and enable countries to implement the one that best suits their particular needs. Together, we can get ahead of Shigella.”

In addition to the vaccine agreement, LimmaTech also named Franz-Werner Haas as its CEO Thursday.

Haas previously spent more than a decade as an executive at CureVac SE, where he most recently served as CEO.

A biopharma leader with more than two decades of experience, including stints at Lion Bioscience and Sirona Dental Systems, Haas is tasked with growing the company’s pipeline of novel antibacterial vaccines.

In a press release, Haas noted that LimmaTech is working on two promising vaccine technologies, including the shigella vaccine licensed from GSK.

“Drawing from my past experience in growing organizations with new technologies addressing significant medical needs, I look forward to working together with the LimmaTech team to further develop the company, enhance its unique capabilities in complex carbohydrate engineering for antibacterial vaccines and bring our lead vaccine program toward the market,” Haas stated.