VBI Vaccines, a Massachusetts biopharma developing next-gen infectious disease and immuno-oncology vaccines, will develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine candidate via a new collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Canada’s largest federal research and development organization.
The candidate will target COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
“COVID-19 is now the third, and to-date the most widespread, coronavirus outbreak in the 21st century, and while it is clearly a priority at this time, there remains an unmet medical need for broader protection against emerging coronaviruses,” said Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, VBI’s Chief Medical Officer.
“Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses by nature which we believe makes them a prime target for VBI’s flexible enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) platform technology, ongoing development of which is led and conducted at our research facility in Ottawa, Canada.
“Based on past clinical experience with the eVLP platform, we expect that a multivalent eVLP vaccine candidate, co-expressing SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV spike proteins on the same particle, will be possible to develop.
“Moreover, we believe the trivalent construct could allow for the production of broadly reactive antibodies, which offer potential for protection from mutated strains of COVID-19 that may emerge over time.”
The collaboration will combine VBI’s viral vaccine expertise, eVLP technology platform, and coronavirus antigens with the NRC’s uniquely-designed COVID-19 antigens and assay development capabilities to identify the most immunogenic vaccine candidate for further development.
Under the terms of the agreement, the NRC and VBI will collaborate to evaluate and select the optimal vaccine candidate.
Following IND-enabling pre-clinical studies, conducted at both the NRC core facilities and at VBI’s research facility in Ottawa, Canada, VBI believes that clinical study materials could be available in Q4 2020.