Oxford Vacmedix announces collaboration to develop vaccine and diagnostic tests for Covid-19

28th May 2020

Collaboration with the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford will use recombinant overlapping peptide technology to develop a novel vaccine and diagnostic tests for Covid-19

Oxford Vacmedix UK Limited (OVM), the UK-based biopharma company focusing on the development of cancer vaccines, announced today that it will use its proprietary recombinant overlapping peptide (ROP) technology to develop a new vaccine and diagnostic tests for Covid-19. The research will be carried out in collaboration with the renowned Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) at the University of Oxford.  The project aims to develop a low-cost vaccine with the potential to be used both as a prophylactic and a therapeutic as well as diagnostic tests to monitor T-cell function and to target the specific antigens of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.  OVM will synthesise, develop the manufacturing process and do preclinical testing before partnering to scale up manufacturing and clinical testing.

The surface of coronavirus carries a protein known as a spike or S protein, which includes two sub-domains – S1 and S2 proteins. The S1 protein mediates the attachment of the virus to the host cell surface receptors whilst the S2 protein mediates fusion of the virion and cellular membranes by acting as a class I viral fusion protein and it has at least three conformational forms. The OVM recombinant overlapping peptide vaccine will target both S proteins to generate the immunity that blocks viral binding to the receptor and viral fusing to the host cell membrane, and also to kill viral infected cells when the virus enters the host cells.

The need for effective vaccines and testing to counter the threat and consequences of the current coronavirus pandemic is the most urgent current global priority. By using the resources of both the company and through collaboration with the Nuffield Department of Medicine, OVM will contribute its ROP technology to the global effort being made to defeat Covid-19.

Spun out from the University of Oxford, OVM is commercialising the research on ROPs developed in the Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford. The principal application of the technology is in the development of a novel type of therapeutic cancer vaccine with potential for increased efficacy and safety, simpler regulatory pathways and lower costs. This new project will run alongside OVM’s main development programmes on its two lead cancer vaccines; OVM-100, an HPV vaccine targeted at cervical cancer; and OVM-200 a new type of vaccine based on survivin that targets solid tumours. Both vaccines address areas of significant unmet medical need and will be tested as single agents and also in combination with other immune-oncology agents.

Dr Shisong Jiang, CSO and Founder of OVM, said:

“As a vaccine company we felt it is very important and our responsibility to make a contribution in the current pandemic. We believe that the ROP technology platform will have real utility both for use as a vaccine and for diagnostic applications against the coronavirus. This novel application of our technology could make a significant difference to the effectiveness of the treatment and to the testing options available for infectious disease.”

Dr Nicola Burgess-Brown, Principal Investigator in the Nuffield Department of Medicine added:

“This project is an excellent opportunity to widen the applications of the Oxford Vacmedix’s ROP technology and to build on our expertise in immunology and infectious disease. We are very pleased to be able to collaborate and to offer the facilities and expertise of the NDM to help this important work with the potential to address this real need and to benefit a wide population”.

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