Novel COVID-19 Vaccine out of UK Startup Heads to Phase 1 Clinical Trial in Switzerland

A UK-based biotech in Oxfordshire soon commences clinical trials investigating a second-generation vaccine targeting COVID-19. Using an easy-to-administer skin patch, the experimental vaccine uses T-cells to destroy SARS-CoV-2 infected cells potentially affording the person longer-lasting immunity than the first crop of COVID-19 vaccines on the market.

The Company

Launched in 2016 in Abingdon the company known as Exergex Vaccines initially was organized to develop T-cell vaccines based on the ideas of Prof. Thomas Rademacher, the startup’s chief executive and professor emeritus of molecular medicine at the University College London medical school.  The company has raised about $13 million.

The Experimental Vaccine

This novel investigational vaccine prime T-cells to eliminate infected cells from the body expeditiously post injection, thus in theory stopping the replication of the pathogen.  In this new vaccine T-cells seek out, find and terminate infected cells.

The biotech’s chief commercial officer Robin Cohen reports “This is the first time a regulator has approved a COVID vaccine to go into clinical trials whose sole purpose is to generate a targeted T-cell response in the absence of an antibody response and those T-cells look for infected cells and kill them.

Emergex’s vaccines aim to prime naive CD8+ T-Cells to generate virus specific CTLs (CD8+ T-cells/Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes) to kill viral infected cells, preventing viral replication and disease and reducing symptoms and the transmissibility between infected and non-infected individuals.

As a result, Emergex’s T-Cell priming vaccines have the potential to be more effective in targeting rapidly mutating viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and eliminate the need for seasonal booster vaccines in comparison to current vaccine technologies, which primarily rely on an antibody immune response. In addition, Emergex’s vaccine is raised against antigens that are highly conserved so may provide cross reactive immunity to SARS-CoV-1 infection and all SARS-CoV-2 variants and strains of the virus, offering broad immune protection from two pandemic viruses in one vaccine.

Study in Switzerland

Apparently the nation of Switzerland has accepted an initial Phase 1 clinical trial in Lausanne targeting 26 participants some of who will receive high and somehow doses starting in the new year.

Professor Blaise Genton, a Principal Investigator for the forthcoming clinical trial at the Center for Primary Care and Public Health (Unisante) at University of Lausanne, Switzerland declared “Although current COVID-19 vaccines have made significant progress in reducing mortality and morbidity challenges still remain, especially with the development of new variants. This exciting new scientific approach to developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 addresses the need to generate a T-cell response to elicit long-term immunity. We look forward to evaluating the results as when they are available.”

Call to Action: TrialSite will monitor the study in the new year.