Researchers Launch COVID-19 Vaccine Study Based on Yellow Fever

KU Leuven Rega Institute YF17D-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate is named RegaVax
laboratory worker
Leuven (Precision Vaccinations)

A leading research institution located in Leuven, Belgium and Batavia Biosciences announced their partnership on the development of a vector-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The virology team at the KU Leuven Rega Institute for Medical Research, which was founded in 1954, is headed by Prof. Dr. Johan Neyts, stated in a press release they ‘have developed a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate consisting of an attenuated vector carrying the SARS-CoV-2 spike immunogen.’

The vector is derived from the live-attenuated yellow fever vaccine (YF17D strain), which is a proven safe and effective vaccine, used worldwide to protect more than 500 million people against yellow fever.’

The YF17D-SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, tentatively named RegaVax, shows convincing pre-clinical immunogenicity and efficacy data in challenge studies, as recently published in Nature on December 1, 2020.

Based on this promising data the research group is now confident to start the next phase of development, heading towards preparation for clinical trials. 

The partnership aims to deliver the clinical product and to commence clinical testing in 2021.

To support this activity, Batavia will leverage its vaccine development and manufacturing experience together with its high-intensity HIP-Vax® manufacturing technology to develop a clinical manufacturing process for the vaccine candidate, deliver clinical products and prepare for large-scale commercial supply.

Prof. Neyts commented: “RegaVax is the only COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on the yellow fever vaccine. We hope that this vaccine, will, like the yellow fever vaccine on which it is based, provide, after a single dose, long-lasting protection against this coronavirus.”

Dr. Christopher Yallop, COO, Batavia Biosciences added: “Our HIP-Vax technology is ideally suited to develop and manufacture this vaccine rapidly and cost-effectively and we are very much looking forward to working closely with the KU Leuven team to deliver the clinical product and help move this vaccine candidate to licensure.”

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by the yellow fever virus. The majority of people with yellow fever virus infections will either not have symptoms, or have mild disease and completely recover. But some people will develop severe disease, says the U.S. CDC.

Stamaril, a Sanofi product, is a live attenuated yellow fever vaccine that contains the active substance Yellow fever virus 17D-204 strain produced in specified pathogen-free chick embryos. Stamaril is currently registered and distributed in over 70 countries.

PrecisionVaccinations publishes research-based vaccine development news.