Coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has created chaos across the world putting economies, businesses, and other daily life activities to halt. To get rid of this pandemic, several biotech companies across the world have ramped up the vaccine program. Vaccination is a quick and effective way to gain immunity against a particular disease. For the record, the vaccine contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, which is made up of toxins or part of surface proteins from a killed or weakened form of microbe.
While the vaccine-creation process is time-consuming, numerous startups are using their expertise and capabilities to find and develop technology-driven solutions as well. Right now, there are several vaccines out there in the development against COVID-19 in various stages and are quite different from one another. In this regard, we have jotted down 7 European startups working round the clock to develop and release the COVID-19 vaccine.
Osivax (Lyon, France)
Founders: Alexandre Levert, Florence Nicolas
Recently, the French biotech company raised €30 million to develop universal vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus and influenza. The Company’s proprietary oligoDOM technology enables the development of vaccines that aim to protect the body from all viral influenza strains.
By targeting the nucleoprotein, a highly conserved antigen with a low mutation rate found in every flu variation, oligoDOM has the potential to provide lasting immunity regardless of virus mutation. Osivax is deploying the same approach toward a universal coronavirus vaccine to protect against the current virus, SARS-Cov-2, and future coronavirus strains.
Themis Bioscience (Vienna, Austria)
Founders: Dr. Erich Tauber
The Austrian company was recently acquired by the US company MSD to accelerate the development of the measles vector-based SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate. This candidate is currently in pre-clinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020.
Themis Bioscience developed a broad pipeline of vaccine candidates and immune-modulatory therapies using its innovative measles virus vector platform based on the vector. It uses a modified measles vaccine virus as a vector and can be engineered to express a wide range of antigens.
Back in March, Themis joined a consortium together with the Institut Pasteur and The Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to develop a vaccine candidate targeting SARS-CoV-2 for the prevention of COVID-19.
Activirosomes (Norwich, UK)
Activirosomes develop effective, and affordable vaccines and virotherapies. The UK company generates non-replicating derivatives of measles and other related viruses by leveraging the Active Virosome technology. The virosome-based vaccine carries only the viral genes required to elicit an immune response.
2A Pharma (Malmö, Sweden)
2A Pharma is a clinical-stage Swedish/Danish biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercialising novel, cost-effective vaccines, and therapeutics based on the AAVLP platform. The Swedish startup develops cost-efficient prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines. The particle has two sites, where peptide sequences can be inserted, allowing the use of the platform to generate either monovalent or bivalent vaccines.
AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK)
AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets prescription medicines. A few weeks back, AstraZeneca has licensed coronavirus-neutralising antibodies from Vanderbilt University, US, and plans to advance a pair of these mAbs into clinical development as a potential combination therapy for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
On top of that, the Cambridge-based company reached an agreement with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, currently in clinical development
Takis Biotech (Rome, Italy)
Takis is a biotechnology company that has contributed to the validation of new targets for the treatment of chronic viral diseases and cancer and many IND/CSA filings in the areas of virology and oncology. The company’s main focus is to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines against tumor antigens which play a role in tumor development and maintenance.
A few weeks back, Takis Biotech in partnership with Applied DNA Sciences Inc announced the production of neutralising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 after DNA vaccination in animals.
GSK (London, UK)
Last week, GSK, a science-led global healthcare company announced a collaboration with Medicago to develop and evaluate a COVID-19 candidate vaccine combining Medicago’s recombinant Coronavirus Virus-Like Particles (CoVLP) with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system. Notably, CoVLPs mimic the structure of the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease, allowing them to be recognised by the immune system.
The preclinical results with Medicago’s CoVLP vaccine candidate demonstrated a high level of neutralising antibodies following a single dose when administered with an adjuvant. It’s worth mentioning that, Phase 1 clinical testing is planned to start in mid-July and will evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of three different dose levels of antigen combined with GSKs pandemic adjuvant and in parallel with an adjuvant from another company, administered on a one- and two-dose vaccination schedule, given 21 days apart.
Subject to successful clinical development and regulatory considerations, the companies aim to complete development and make the vaccine available, in the first half of 2021.
As the demand surges, the normally slow process is being pushed into an all-out rush, which again raises the question of whether the vaccine developed at this pace is safe. What do you guys think about it?
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