St. Louis-based Precision Virologics and India's Biotech leader Bharat Biotech obtain rights to intranasal COVID-19 vaccine technology
BioGenerator-supported vaccine candidate advances to human trials
ST. LOUIS, Sept. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Biotech startup Precision Virologics, which develops adenovirus-based vaccines in St. Louis, and Bharat Biotech, a vaccine manufacturing giant, jointly obtained rights from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for a novel chimp-adenovirus vaccine for COVID-19. Precision Virologics has optioned rights for USA, Europe, and Japan. Bharat has obtained a license for all other markets.
The licensing agreements will lead to rapid clinical development, following the intranasal vaccine candidate having shown unprecedented levels of protection in mouse studies. This technology and data recently was published in Cell and Nature.
"The ability to accomplish effective immunization with a single nasal dose is a major advantage, offering broader reach and easier administration," said Precision Virologics Interim CEO David T. Curiel, MD, PhD. "An effective nasal dose not only protects against COVID-19, but it also prevents the spread of the disease by directly targeting the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates currently under development can't do that."
Based on these exceptional findings, the National Institutes of Health is advancing studies in non-human primates. Phase I trials – a single nasal dose – will take place at Saint Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit. Bharat Biotech, upon obtaining regulatory approvals, will pursue clinical trials in India and undertake large-scale manufacture of the vaccine at its GMP facility in Genome Valley, India.
"We are proud to collaborate on this innovative vaccine," said Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech. "We envision that we will scale this vaccine to 1 billion doses, translating to 1 billion individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen. An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles and syringes, significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive. Our experience in viral vaccines, manufacturing capabilities, and distribution continue to be our strong suit in ensuring safe, efficacious, and affordable vaccines. It is prudent for Bharat to be involved in diverse but tenable projects to provide a much-needed vaccine against COVID-19 reaches all citizens of the world."
BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, provides Precision Virologics with business development services and currently oversees Intellectual Property rights and business negotiations for the company.
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