How Syntiron Was Hatched


Syntiron was founded in 2004 as a research and development company dedicated to the development of human vaccines based on iron-regulated bacterial proteins. Syntiron’s core vaccine technology was originally developed as a method to grow stronger, healthier turkeys free from Salmonella.

Since its beginning in 1945, the leaders of Willmar Poultry Company (WPC) have been committed to finding solutions to everyday problems in turkey farming, both for themselves and for the industry as a whole. They have been guided by the underlying belief that they needed to be a driving force in the industry, rather than wait for someone else to innovate key components such as equipment, feed, medical supplies and disease control. It was that belief which led WPC to help build Minnesota into the most productive turkey growing region in the world.

Early in Minnesota turkey growing history, WPC recognized the commercial advantage of reducing bacterial disease in its turkeys and eggs. In 1986, microbiologists Daryll Emery and Darren Straub endeavored to develop a vaccine that could reduce bacteria in the turkey flocks. This culminated in their invention of Siderophore Receptor and Porin (SRP®) Technology, an innovative type of vaccine based on transport proteins derived directly from iron-starved bacterial cells. Vaccines made in this way prevented many types of common bacteria from infecting turkeys, leading to healthier, faster-growing turkeys and reducing the need for antimicrobial supplementation. Epitopix was formed in 2002 to develop and commercialize SRP Technology to improve animal health and food safety. The first cattle vaccine to prevent Salmonella received a USDA conditional license in 2004, followed by an E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine in 2010, a first-in-class agricultural vaccine designed specifically to protect the food supply. The commercial SRP vaccines continue to be manufactured by Epitopix in Willmar, Minnesota and are now marketed and distributed by Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health).

Broad-spectrum protection, safety, and an economically efficient manufacturing process gave the Epitopix SRP vaccines a competitive advantage in the agricultural industry right from the start. Syntiron was founded in 2004 to develop the platform for human applications. Syntiron has an exclusive cross license to the intellectual property portfolio for human applications. The collaborative research partnership has generated major value for both Syntiron and Epitopix during the ensuing decade, with the expansion of their vaccine candidate pipelines through licensing partnerships, grants and contracts with the government, biotechnology collaborators and major multinational pharmaceutical companies.