Maynard Teams Up With Synthetic Biologics To Fight Whooping Cough

Headshot of Associate Professor Jennifer MaynardAssociate Professor Jennifer Maynard, the Laurence E. McMakin, Jr. Centennial Faculty Fellow, has teamed up with biotech company Synthetic Biologics, Inc. to develop a monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy for the treatment of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Whooping cough causes an estimated 294,000 deaths annually worldwide, primarily among young, unvaccinated children.  Recent reports indicate that the pertussis vaccine introduced in the 1990s does not provide long-term protection and, as a result, whooping cough cases are increasing to a 60-year high in the U.S.

Synthetic Biologics intends to develop a mAb therapy, SYN-005, designed to neutralize the pertussis toxin, thereby reducing the mortality rate in infants and potentially shortening the chronic cough in adults. The company recently entered into an agreement with UT Austin to license rights to certain research and pending patents related to pertussis antibodies developed by Maynard.  Maynard’s expertise in defining key neutralizing epitopes of pertussis toxin will optimize the potential efficacy of antibody therapeutics.

“Dr. Maynard has been researching and developing specific pertussis toxin targets for more than five years and her experience should accelerate our development timelines,” said Jeffrey Riley, Chief Executive Officer of Synthetic Biologics, Inc.  “A steady increase in outbreaks of whooping cough has become a serious threat to some of the most vulnerable members of our society- especially infants. The risk to individuals and to public health supports the pursuit of a new therapeutic option such as our mAb therapy.”

Synthetic Biologics, Inc. logoThe development for this treatment of whooping cough is the second of three infectious disease indications Synthetic Biologics intends to pursue in collaboration with Intrexon Corporation, a privately held biotechnology company focused on the industrial engineering of synthetic biology.

“I am very excited to be working with Synthetic Biologics on the development of this important new treatment for whooping cough, with the potential to protect infants from this devastating disease, and to treat adults who suffer from the disease later in life,” said Maynard.

Maynard is an expert in biotechnology, vaccine development, protein therapeutics, applied immunology and applied microbiology.  She earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UT Austin in 2002 and a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University in 1996. She has won numerous awards, including a Dreyfus New Faculty Award and Packard Fellowship. A previous antibody she engineered is in late stage III clinical trials with its liscensee, Elusys under the name Anthim. She’s written more than 30 peer-reviewed papers with more than 900 citations and has mentored 12 Ph.D. students.

About Intrexon Corporation

Intrexon Corporation is a privately held biotechnology company focused on the industrial engineering of synthetic biology. Intrexon is deploying its extensive capabilities to rapidly design and produce novel and enhanced biological products and processes across multiple industry sectors, including: human therapeutics, protein production, industrial products, agricultural biotechnology, and animal science. The Company’s advanced bioindustrial engineering platform enables Better DNA™ technology by combining revolutionary DNA control systems with corresponding advancements in modular transgene design, assembly, and optimization to enable unprecedented control over the function and output of living cells. More information about the Company is available at

About Synthetic Biologics, Inc.

Synthetic Biologics is a biotechnology company focused on the development of product candidates for serious infections and diseases. Synthetic Biologics is developing a biologic for the prevention of C. diff infection, and a series of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the treatment of serious infectious diseases, including Acinetobacter and pertussis. The Company is also developing a synthetic DNA-based therapy for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in collaboration with Intrexon. In addition, the Company is developing a drug candidate for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) and cognitive dysfunction in MS, and designing a clinical development pathway for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). For more information, please visit Synthetic Biologics’ website at mAbLogix™ and LEAP™ are registered trademarks of Intrexon Corporation.

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