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Recent Updates on Corona Treatment: Vaccines/drugs in the pipeline for COVID-19

Altimmune’s intranasal coronavirus vaccine

An intranasal Covid-19 vaccine is being developed by US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Altimmune.

Design and synthesis of the single-dose vaccine have been completed, while animal testing will follow.

The coronavirus vaccine is being developed based on a vaccine technology platform that is similar to NasoVAX, an influenza vaccine developed by Altimmune.

INO-4800 by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has collaborated with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Company to advance the development of the former’s vaccine, INO-4800, as a novel coronavirus vaccine. The company has started pre-clinical testing for clinical product manufacturing.

The vaccine development is supported by a $9m grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Inovio announced an accelerated timeline for the development of the vaccine on 03 March. Preclinical trials are ongoing and the design for human clinical trials have been completed. The company has also prepared 3,000 doses for human clinical trials planned to be conducted across the US, China, and South Korea.  Plans for large-scale manufacturing have also been developed.

Human clinical trials in 30 healthy volunteers are expected to commence in April 2020 in the US, followed by China, and South Korea. A phase one clinical trial is planned to be conducted in parallel in China, by Beijing Advaccine. Results from the clinical trials are expected to be available in September 2020.

Inovio aims to produce one million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020 to perform additional clinical trials or emergency use.

NP-120 (Ifenprodil) by Algernon Pharmaceuticals

Algernon Pharmaceuticals has announced that it is exploring its NP-120 (Ifenprodil) as a potential treatment COVID-19. Ifenprodil is an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NDMA) receptor glutamate receptor antagonist sold under the brand name Cerocal. It has demonstrated efficacy in improving survivability in mice infected with H5N1.

APN01 by University of British Columbia and APEIRON Biologics

A drug candidate developed by APEIRON Biologics named APN01 is being tested in China in a phase one pilot trial as a treatment for COVID-19. APN01 is based on research conducted by a professor at the University of British Columbia for treating SARS. The research revealed that the ACE2 protein was the main receptor for the SARS virus.

The clinical trial will test the drug’s efficacy in reducing the viral load in patients. Data from the trial will be used to determine if additional clinical trials are required to be conducted in larger number of patients.

mRNA-1273 vaccine by Moderna and Vaccine Research Center

Moderna and the Vaccine Research Center, a unit of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), have collaborated to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. The vaccine targets the Spike (S) protein of the coronavirus.

The first vials of the vaccine have been manufactured at Moderna’s Massachusetts manufacturing plant and shipped to NIAID for phase one human clinical trial. The trial began on 16 March at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington. A total of 45 males and females aged between 18 and 45 have been enrolled for the trial.

The participants will be divided into three cohorts who will be administered 25 microgram (mcg), 100mcg or 250mcg dose 28 days apart.

Avian Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine by MIGAL Research Institute

The MIGAL Research Institute in Israel announced that an Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine developed to treat avian coronavirus has been modified to treat COVID-19. The vaccine has demonstrated efficacy in pre-clinical trials conducted by the Volcani Institute.

The IBV vaccine was developed after four years of research and has high genetic similarity to the human coronavirus. The institute has genetically modified the vaccine to treat COVID-19 and will be available in the oral form.

The institute is currently exploring potential partners for producing the vaccine in the next eight to ten weeks and obtaining the necessary safety approvals for in-vivo testing.

TNX-1800 by Tonix Pharmaceuticals

Tonix Pharmaceuticals has partnered with Southern Research, a non-profit research organisation, to develop a vaccine for coronavirus named TNX-1800.  The vaccine is a modified horsepox virus developed using Tonix’s proprietary horsepox vaccine platform.

TNX-1800 is designed to express a protein derived from the virus that causes the coronavirus infection. Southern Research will be responsible for evaluating the efficacy of the vaccine, under the partnership.

Brilacidin by Innovation Pharmaceuticals

Innovation Pharmaceuticals announced that it is evaluating Brilacidin, a defensin mimetic drug candidate, as a potential treatment for coronavirus. Brilacidin has shown antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties in several clinical trials.

The company is planning to explore research collaborations and seek federal grants to develop the coronavirus drug. It is already investigating the drug for inflammatory bowel disease and oral mucositis in cancer patients.

Innovation has signed two material transfer agreements with a university in the US and 12 biocontainment labs in the US for evaluation of Brilacidin as a treatment for COVID-19. One of the biocontainment labs is scheduled to commence testing of the drug in the third week of March.

Recombinant subunit vaccine by Clover Biopharmaceuticals

Clover Biopharmaceuticals is developing a recombinant subunit vaccine using its patented Trimer-Tag© technology. The company is developing the vaccine based on the trimeric S protein (S-Trimer) of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is responsible for binding with the host cell and causing a viral infection.

Using Trimer-Tag© technology, Clover successfully produced the subunit vaccine in a mammalian cell-culture based expression system on 10 February. The company also identified antigen-specific antibody in the serum of fully recovered patients who were previously infected by the virus.

A highly purified form of the S-Trimer vaccine is expected to be available in six to eight weeks for performing pre-clinical studies. The company is equipped with in-house cGMP biomanufacturing capabilities to scale-up production if the vaccine is proven to be successful.

Clover is also collaborating with GSK to develop a vaccine using the latter’s pandemic adjuvant system.

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