ExpreS2ion and its joint venture partner AdaptVac are engaged in the development of a unique capsid virus-like particle (cVLP) COVID-19 vaccine, partly sponsored through a Horizon 2020 EU grant award to the PREVENT-nCoV consortium to rapidly advance the vaccine candidate against COVID-19 into the clinical stage. The candidate vaccine is a cVLP applying ExpreS2-produced SARS-CoV-2 antigens, thereby creating a powerful immunogenic vaccine.
AdaptVac and AGC Biologics, a global Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) for biopharmaceuticals have entered into a partnership for the scale-up and cGMP manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccine. In July 2020, AdaptVac and Bavarian Nordic, a fully integrated biotechnology company focused on the development, manufacture and commercialization of life-saving vaccines, have entered into a license agreement which provides Bavarian Nordic the global commercialization rights to the proprietary capsid virus like particle (cVLP) based SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine, designated ABNCoV2. For application of our proprietary protein production system ExpreS2, ExpreS2ion and AdaptVac have also entered into a license agreement for this project.
In addition to ExpreS2ion and AdaptVac, the PREVENT-nCoV consortium members are Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM) at University of Tübingen, The Department of Immunology and Microbiology (ISIM) at University of Copenhagen, the Laboratory of Virology at Wageningen University, and Radboud University Medical Center. The first clinical Phase I/II study was initiated in March 2021.
Breast cancer is a widespread oncology indication affecting more than 1.3 million people worldwide annually, resulting in more than 450,000 deaths (Tao, 2015: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25543329). The most common treatment today is based on monoclonal antibodies, where the dominating therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) generates annual global sales of USD 7 billion. The target product profile of AdaptVac's lead breast cancer project, AV001(HER2-cVLP), is tailored to be highly competitive both in terms of cost and efficacy, thus aiming at a significant market share.
In February 2021, ExpreS2ion signed a final patent license agreement with AdaptVac whereby ExpreS2ion exclusively licensed in AV001 (renamed ES2B-C001). This gives ExpreS2ion full control over and responsibility for driving this valuable asset forward, hereby realising the very significant value of this project.
The international next-generation influenza vaccine consortium INDIGO, led by the University of Amsterdam with ExpreS2ion as a participating member, is developing a next-generation influenza vaccine in a large collaboration between public and private R&D organisations from the EU, India, and the United States. The project has been awarded a 10.0 MEUR Horizon 2020 grant from the EU, of which ExpreS2ion’s participation was directly awarded 0.6 MEUR.
The INDIGO consortium plans to carry out the preclinical and clinical development of the project, which contains two novel influenza vaccine concepts, including the application of a novel potent adjuvant by LiteVax BV, the Netherlands, as well as the use of the ExpreS2 platform for antigen production by ExpreS2ion. The aim is to create an influenza vaccine that meets the requirements of global vaccination, i.e. to achieve <10% instead of 60% non-responders, combined with a lower manufacturing cost and better accessibility.
Blood stage (RH5-1)
Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford is developing the blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum malaria antigen RH5.1 with ExpreS2ion as a collaboration partner. The RH5.1 antigen is produced in ExpreS2ion’s ExpreS2 platform.
Blood stage (RH5-2)
With the aim to further improve efficacy, Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford is developing a second-generation RH5 vaccine, RH5.2, in the ExpreS2 platform. RH5.2 has been engineered to retain regions important for red blood cell recognition, which are targeted by neutralising antibodies. Additionally, the RH5.2 protein will be displayed on the surface of a hepatitis B derived virus-like particle (VLP) in order to maximise the induction of high titre antibodies. The project is founded by the Wellcome Trust.
The goal for a transmission-blocking vaccine is to prevent the transfer to mosquitos feeding on persons infected with malaria, thus effectively hindering further spread of the disease. Thereby a transmission-blocking vaccine does not give direct protection from the disease, but it stops the disease from spreading and could therefore lead to eradication of malaria. During the last decade, the inability to produce the full-length Pfs48/45 antigen has been a major roadblock for researchers aiming to create a transmission-blocking malaria vaccine. However, this challenge was overcome by ExpreS2ion and Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.
This vaccine is developed by the Horizon 2020-funded OptiMalVax grant consortium, led by Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford with ExpreS2ion as a member. The objective of the consortium is to create a combination malaria vaccine, and its clinical program will include trials to assess the pre-erythrocytic, blood-stage and mosquito-stage components of the combination vaccine, including this transmission vaccine.
ExpreS2ion is a part of the PlacMalVac project that started in 2013 as an international consortium project with the aim to develop a vaccine against placental malaria. The project is based on the antigen VAR2CSA, which enable parasite accumulation in the placenta and was discovered by Professor Ali Salanti and others at the University of Copenhagen.
Blood-stage (PfRipr complex)
An international research team, including scientists from ExpreS2ion and led by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), is developing a next generation malaria vaccine that is targeting a recently discovered molecular ’key’ that the deadly malaria parasite uses to enter human blood cells. The malaria ‘key’ was first described in a Nature article, published December 2018 from the group. It is a complex of three parasite proteins called Rh5, CyRPA and Ripr, where the three proteins work together to unlock and enter the cell. This central role in the infection of human blood cells makes the complex a new and promising target for vaccine development. The vaccine is based on a patent co-owned by WEHI and ExpreS2ion.