‘Exceptionally potent yet easily scalable’: Synthetic biology-based COVID vaccine could pull ahead of current frontrunners

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
A VLP, or virus-like particle.
A VLP, or virus-like particle.

Years ago, researchers learned that, when made with biotechnology, some viral proteins could spontaneously assemble themselves into “virus-like particles,” or VLPs. Although benign, these particles looked like a virus and the bodies recognized them as such, producing fantastic immune responses. Gardasil, Merck’s HPV vaccine, was made this way, potentially saving millions of lives over the next century.

[Neil] King figured out how to design similar particles with software, crafting sporty shapes that made them easier to manufacture and, by a geometric sleight-of-hand, potentially far more potent. Last year, he built a candidate for RSV and raised $51 million to launch a company called Icosavax.  This year, he turned his attention to the new coronavirus.

“We’ve made what looks like a really safe and really effective vaccine,” King told Endpoints News.

Related article:  Chinese biopharma firms ‘well ahead’ in race to use CRISPR in humans

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed, announcing on [October 30] that they would pour $10 million into the effort, the most they’ve publicly committed for any early-stage Covid-19 vaccine.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

The goal is to use synthetic biology to build an exceptionally potent yet easily scalable vaccine, one that can work even in the most at-risk populations, including older adults who might not respond as well to a classic shot. Cell published their preclinical study [November 13], showing high rates of neutralizing antibodies, including from a single dose.

Read the original post (requires free subscription)

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

In May, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) released new guidelines that relaxed the 14-day rule, taking away ...
Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.