ROCKVILLE, Md. and SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: SYN), a developer of synthetic biologics and innovative medicines for serious infections and diseases, and Intrexon Corporation, a leading synthetic biology company that utilizes its proprietary technologies to provide control over cellular function, announced today that they have initiated development of a monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy for the treatment of pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. Each year, Bordetella pertussis (B. pertussis) infection causes an estimated 294,000 deaths worldwide, primarily among young, unvaccinated children. 1 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. 2,3 To aid in the management of the rising number of pertussis cases, 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 initiation of mAb development for the treatment of pertussis is the second of three infectious disease indications Synthetic Biologics intends to pursue as part of its August 2012 collaboration with Intrexon. To further the development of this potential therapy for pertussis, Synthetic Biologics has entered into an agreement with The University of Texas at Austin to license the rights to certain research and pending patents related to pertussis antibodies. These research efforts are being conducted at the Cockrell School of Engineering in the laboratory of Assistant Professor, Jennifer A. Maynard, Ph.D., the Laurence E. McMakin, Jr. Centennial Faculty Fellow in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. Dr. Maynard brings to the project her expertise in defining the key neutralizing epitopes of pertussis toxin to optimize the potential efficacy of antibody therapeutics. Dr. Maynard stated, "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."