PhageNova Bio, Inc. Announces Publication of Design and Development of Experimental COVID-19 Vaccines


SUMMIT, N.J., July 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- PhageNova Bio, Inc. ("PhageNova") is pleased to announce that data related to its proprietary vaccine development program have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research, conducted through a Collaboration Agreement with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, describes a new system for safe and effective vaccination and pulmonary delivery of therapeutics, including an aerosol inhalation strategy originally being developed to address the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

The research team, led by Renata Pasqualini, PhD, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of PhageNova, and Chief of the Division of Cancer Biology, Department of Radiation Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; and Wadih Arap MD, PhD, Founder of PhageNova, Director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Newark and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, worked in conjunction with a broader team including those from Rice University in Houston, Texas. The authors' findings support a new viable vaccination strategy that is straightforward to genetically engineer or modify, amenable to large-scale manufacturing, stable under harsh environmental conditions with respect to temperature, making it logistically simple to quickly and efficiently deliver globally.

The authors showcase two independent phage display-based vaccination approaches against SARS-CoV-2. The first approach utilizes a peptide-directed phage particle formulated as an aerosol to be administered by inhalation. The construct is engineered with an epitope from the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and a ligand peptide to facilitate crossing from the lungs to systemic circulation. The second approach utilizes systemically administered engineered phage particles to deliver the gene encoding for the entire S protein. Both systems have  been shown to produce  strong systemic and specific antibody response in mice.

Dr. Pasqualini commented, "new vaccination strategies may positively impact the management of COVID-19 at a global level.  Our goal continues to be to demonstrate the favorable biological attributes of phage as a potentially practical and affordable vaccination method." Offering further comment, Dr. Arap confirmed, "use of bacteriophage as a vaccination strategy makes sense, as phage particles are not infectious to human cells, and we can modify them to target a variety of surface receptors, now enabling ligand-directed pulmonary vaccination."

This PNAS publication and prior recently peer-reviewed publication in Med entitled Targeted Phage Display-Based Pulmonary Vaccination in Mice and Non-human Primates, confirm that phage display-based vaccine approaches are promising, robust, and versatile platforms. In 2020, PhageNova entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Rutgers for these constructs, and through its Collaboration Agreement, it looks forward to developing these new methods for safe and effective delivery of vaccines and therapeutics. "PhageNova has always been at the forefront of targeted phage-based therapies," commented Jason Rifkin, JD, MB, President and CEO of PhageNova. "Applying our proprietary technology to a vaccination approach was a natural next step to have a positive impact on global health, and also highlight the versatility of our platform. We look forward to continuing our program working with Drs. Pasqualini and Arap, the Rutgers Cancer Institute, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and future collaboration with the Rice University team." 

About PhageNova Bio, Inc.

PhageNova Bio is a developmental stage biotechnology company pursuing a unique approach to systemically administered targeted gene expression for cancer, vaccination, and molecular imaging. The company's lead construct is a modular, bacteriophage-based platform conceived by combining the targeting capability of phage with sustained gene expression provided by adeno-associated virus genetic elements. The company's lead cancer construct is designed to selectively target tumor associated blood vessels and tumor cells, resulting in the expression of TNF-α, a well-known anti-tumor agent, specifically and exclusively in tumors. The company has extensively validated tumor targeting and selective gene expression capabilities, and therapeutic efficacy was observed in the absence of dose-limiting toxicity in multiple species and several tumor models.

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