COVID-19 roundup: SpyBiotech-Serum Institute of India send HBV-based COVID-19 vaccine to clinic; plus Vaxart, Inovio-Thermo Fisher and RedHill
SpyBiotech, Serum Institute of India start vaccine trial
U.K. biotech SpyBiotech Ltd. and its partner the Serum Institute of India on Tuesday started a Phase I/II trial of a virus-like particle (VLP)-based COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine uses SpyBiotech's SpyCatcher/SpyTag protein “superglue” technology that covalently links the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the surface of a hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) VLP.
Vaxart’s spike plus nucleocapsid adenoviral vector vaccine
Vaxart Inc. (NASDAQ:VXRT) described Sunday in bioRxiv its clinical COVID-19 vaccine candidate: an adenovirus vector encoding SARS-CoV-2 full-length, wild-type spike and nucleocapsid proteins. The company had tested several additional constructs, including those encoding a spike subdomain and a full-length, prefusion-stabilized spike; and showed in mice that mucosal administration of the version using the wild-type, full-length spike induced CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses as well as the highest titers of neutralizing antibodies.
Inovio, Thermo Fisher vaccine production deal
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) announced Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE:TMO) has signed a letter of intent to manufacture COVID-19 DNA vaccine INO-4800. Inovio expects to have secured enough capacity through its manufacturing consortium, which includes Richter-Helm BioLogics GmbH and Ology Bioservices Inc., for 100 million doses in 2021. Thermo Fisher projects that when it hits peak capacity, it will be able to produce 100 million doses per year.
Preclinical data for RedHill’s Phase II/III treatment
RedHill Biopharma Ltd. (NASDAQ:RDHL; Tel Aviv:RDHL) showed that 1 mg/mL Yeliva opaganib administered for three days eliminated SARS-CoV-2 replication in a 3D tissue model of human bronchial epithelial cells. RedHill also said it has cell culture data showing upamostat could block SARS-CoV-2 replication. The company has Yeliva, an SPHK2 inhibitor, in a Phase II/III study for severe COVID-19 pneumonia; and plans to start a U.S. Phase II/III trial in an outpatient setting this year.
SPHK2 – Sphingosine kinase 2