$13.1 Million Supports COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Study in China
The Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced that it would partner with Shanghai Zerun Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (ZerunBio) and its parent company Walvax Biotechnology Co., Ltd.(Walvax), to advance the development of both COVID-19 prototype and variant vaccine candidates.
As of Jul 21, 2021, the prototype COVID-19 vaccine recently entered Phase I/II clinical trials in Henan Province, China.
CEPI will provide US$13.1 million to support phase I clinical trial, process optimization and scale-up of the prototype vaccine, and preclinical studies and phase I clinical trial of the variant vaccine.
This funding forms part of CEPI’s program to develop “next-generation” COVID-19 vaccines that are differentiated from those already in advanced development and can be used against COVID-19 variants. CEPI’s portfolio of “next-generation” vaccines currently includes the GBP510 vaccine developed by SK Bioscience.
South Korea-based SK Bioscience applied for regulatory permission to start the Phase 3 clinical trial of GBP510 in June 2021.
The ZerunBio vaccine candidate uses a stabilized version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in trimer form and includes several structural changes designed to improve its ability to stimulate immune responses against new SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as significantly improve yield.
The vaccine candidate will also include an adjuvant, CpG7909, to boost the immune response.
Previous preclinical studies of this vaccine candidate, carried out by ZerunBio, have shown that it induces very high titers of neutralizing antibodies and robust T-cell immune responses. The potential advantages of this candidate include scalability, thermostability, and the ability to cross protect against some of the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations launched at Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines against future epidemics.