Coronavirus Program Overview
VBI is applying its eVLP Platform to develop coronavirus vaccine candidates. Enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) vaccines closely mimic the structure of viruses found in nature, but without the viral genome, potentially yielding safer and more potent vaccine candidates. Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses by nature, which may make them prime targets for this eVLP vaccine technology.
As part of the development collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (“NRC”), a series of pre-clinical animal studies were initiated in Q2 of 2020 to evaluate multiple vaccine constructs, including a trivalent vaccine construct targeting COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (“SARS”), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (”MERS”).
Recent Program Milestones
- August 2020: Announcement of preclinical coronavirus program data and selection of clinical candidates
- August 2020: Announcement of up to CAD$56 million contribution from Canadian Government
- May 2020: Initiation of IND-enabling pre-clinical studies
- March 2020: Announcement of development collaboration with the NRC to develop a coronavirus vaccine program
Coronavirus Medical Need
Coronaviruses are a large family of enveloped viruses that usually cause respiratory illness of varying severities, including the common cold and pneumonia. Only seven coronaviruses are known to cause disease in humans, four of which most frequently cause symptoms of the common cold. Three of the seven coronaviruses, however, have more serious outcomes in people. These include (1) SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus identified as the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”); (2) MERS-CoV, identified in 2012 as the cause of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS); and (3) SARS-CoV, identified in 2002 as the cause of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 is now the third, and to-date the most widespread, coronavirus outbreak in the 21st century, and while it is clearly a priority at this time, there remains an unmet medical need for broader protection against emerging coronaviruses.