CEPI adds eighth Covid-19 vaccine candidate to portfolio

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has added an eighth Covid-19 vaccine candidate to its portfolio.

The organisation will invest an initial $4.9 million in a partnering agreement with the Institut Pasteur-led consortium that will include Themis and the University of Pittsburgh to develop a vaccine candidate against Covid-19.

With this latest collaboration, CEPI has invested a total of $29.2 million in Covid-19 vaccine research and development to date.

In a first step, CEPI funding will support the preclinical testing, initial manufacture of vaccine materials, and preparatory work for phase 1 studies.

To date, CEPI has provided initial funding to Curevac, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, Novavax, The University of Hong Kong, The University of Oxford, and The University of Queensland to develop Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

This investment is the result of a recent global call for proposals that CEPI issued in early February, which invited funding applications for proven vaccine technology that could be used to rapidly develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, and most importantly at scale and with the necessary equitable access provisions.

Stewart Cole, President of the Institut Pasteur, said: “As part of the Covid-19 Task Force set up in January 2020, after our isolation of the coronavirus strains detected in France, the proprietary measles vector (MV) technology was chosen to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 leveraging our extensive experience with human measles vector technology and an MV-SARS-CoV-1 candidate.”

The measles vaccine is used here as a vehicle. Using the measles vaccine virus (also called MV) as a vector, recombinant vaccines can be designed to express antigens from other pathogens (Chikungunya virus, Lassa fever, MERS, HIV, dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, or other emerging diseases).

The use of the modified MV as a vehicle for vaccination against these pathogens makes it possible to deliver the antigens directly in the compartments of the immune system capable of inducing a protective memory response.

With its broadly applicable technology platform licensed to Themis, the Institut Pasteur has successfully collaborated for 10 years with Themis.

This approach was used to develop a vaccine candidate against SARS, and CEPI has previously partnered with Themis and Institut Pasteur to harness this technology to develop vaccine candidates against Chikungunya, MERS, and Lassa fever.

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