Allele Biotech supports COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

October 2, 2020 -- Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals' current good manufacturing practices (cGMP)-grade induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are being used as packaging factories for a dual COVID-19 vaccine.

Allele induced these active stem cells to produce significant quantities of extracellular vesicles or exosomes, which can contain both RNAs and proteins. The firm found messenger RNAs (mRNAs) encoding the SARS-CoV-2 antigen proteins could be packaged in iPSCs and delivered in extracellular vesicles, potentially together with the viral proteins these mRNAs encode to create a dual mRNA and protein vaccine.

Allele's method of mRNA packaging could also solve the production scale and stability issues faced by some mRNA vaccines, the firm said. For example, some mRNA vaccine candidates need to be stored at -80° C to remain stable, but the SARS-CoV-2 S1 mRNA packaged in Allele's iPSC-derived vesicles appeared intact for months even when stored in a 4° C refrigerator.

The firm is working on its vaccine while also developing a cellphone-based rapid COVID-19 antigen diagnostic product using various llama nanoantibodies and proprietary super bright fluorescent proteins. In addition, some of Allele's nanoantibodies are being tested as blocking antibodies for a nasally delivered COVID-19 prophylactic or "passive vaccines" and treatment, the firm said.

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