EpiVax to design antigens for next-gen flu vaccine

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

February 18, 2021 -- EpiVax will work to develop next-generation influenza vaccines as part of the International Consortium for Development of Next-Generation Influenza Vaccines (INDIGO), a partnership of public and private research and development organizations from the European Union (EU), India, and the U.S.

The consortium, led by Remko van Leeuwen, PhD, of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, aims to make next-generation influenza vaccines with better responsiveness, lower costs, and better accessibility.

The group will produce novel seasonal and avian flu vaccines by combining three cutting-edge elements: novel recombinant hemagglutinins with increased immunogenicity, a potent adjuvant, and delivery via needle-free intradermal patches. Then, they will validate the approach by conducting preclinical immunogenicity and safety studies, as well as good manufacturing practice (GMP) manufacturing capability to prepare a candidate for phase I clinical trials.

In the consortium, EpiVax will apply its computational approach through a combination of proprietary immunoinformatics and structural modeling methods to design optimized antigens for inclusion in the seasonal and pandemic recombinant hemagglutinin vaccine candidates. The antigens will be engineered to avoid regulatory T-cell (Treg) induction and to promote hemagglutinin-specific memory CD4+ T cells. The work will make use of the company's tools including EpiMatrix, ClustiMer, and JanusMatrix, contained in the iVax toolkit.

EpiVax will operate in the initial antigen design phase, and then provide the optimized sequences to ExpreS2ion Biotechnologies for development of recombinant antigens. The recombinant antigens will be passed on to the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research; the institute will test the antigens in human donor materials and laboratory models to provide preclinical validation.

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