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ExcellGene partners with Bharat Biotech, CEPI and Sydney University to develop ‘variant-proof’ COVID-19 vaccine

On Tuesday, ExcellGene informed that it will produce complex chimeric Spike antigens using its engineered CHOExpress-cell-based technology.

ExcellGene partners with Bharat Biotech, CEPI and Sydney University to develop ‘variant-proof’ COVID-19 vaccine
The experts of the consortium will generate and screen a large and diverse library of chimeric spike proteins to identify highly cross-reactive antigen structures that recall past and possibly future variants. (File)

ExcellGene on Tuesday announced its role in the recently approved consortium funding through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership of public, private, philanthropic and civil society organisations founded to develop vaccines against future epidemics. Other than CEPI and ExcellGene, the collaboration includes Bharat Biotech, University of Sydney.

On Tuesday, ExcellGene informed that it will produce complex chimeric Spike antigens using its engineered CHOExpress-cell-based technology. Moreover, the Swiss company will use insights from several scientific and technical disciplines along with artificial intelligence to identify the most promising antigenic structure.

The experts of the consortium will generate and screen a large and diverse library of chimeric spike proteins to identify highly cross-reactive antigen structures that recall past and possibly future variants. Meanwhile, CEPI will provide up to US$19.3 million in funding to develop a ‘variant-proof’ SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate for phase I clinical trials.

“With this new funding, ExcellGene expands on a collaboration with the team of Prof. Jamie Triccas that started in early 2020. ExcellGene began to produce Wuhan trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins in March 2020, and subsequently Alpha, Beta, Delta and, recently, Omicron variants. The Company delivered these antigens to its partners as highly purified, stabilised, trimeric spike proteins that had been engineered for high-yield production. By April/May 2021, the Sydney group had verified that such trimeric adjuvanted spike preparations were highly immunogenic in preclinical models. Blocking virus infection was shown in-vitro and in preclinical models with virus variants different from the immunizing antigen,” the Swiss Company said in a statement.

“This new CEPI partnership is a great opportunity to showcase what is possible in the manufacturing of highly complex antigen structures, consisting of computer-designed individual monomers, for a potential variant-proof Covid-19 vaccine. We are excited to work closely with our consortium partners to reach this goal, and we hope it will contribute towards the science for this and other novel protein-based vaccines. Ultimately, we wish to contribute to solving major health care challenges, as most strikingly exposed by COVID-19, using technology and scale-up approaches that successfully provided tons of protein therapeutics made in cultivated animal cells in bioreactors,” Maria Wurm, Dr. es. sci., CEO of ExcellGene said in a statement.

“We are delighted to partner with ExcellGene, Bharat Biotech and the CEPI organisation to progress our platform for the development of broadly protective COVID-19 vaccines. Our mission is to deliver safe, affordable and highly effective vaccines to combat existing and future SARS-CoV-2 variants, and our international consortium is well placed to achieve this goal. The University of Sydney will provide a framework for pre-clinical assessment of vaccine candidates, together with access to Australia’s world-class early phase clinical trial community,” Prof Jamie Triccas, Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, The University of Sydney stated on Tuesday.

“The global threat of SARSCoV-2 is continuing with new infections over and over again, irrespective of prior infections or vaccinations. Thus, more applied research has to be done, both in laboratories like those of Prof. Triccas, and in a company like ExcellGene, that can provide entirely new antigen concepts that combine insights into SARS-CoV-2 gained over the last two and a half years. Being a successful vaccine producer, particularly in the COVID-19 field, does not allow us to rest. We are therefore very pleased in having convinced the CEPI organization that our partnership over three continents is a robust solution that promises to open a new door for a future cross-reactive vaccine,” Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, BBIL said on Tuesday.

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