Ultrapotent COVID-19 Vaccine in Clinical Development

Novel COVID-19 vaccine uses nanoparticles instead of targeting the spike protein.

An ultrapotent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine is in development using a computer program designed by investigators at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine in Seattle, according to research published in Cell.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 1.2 million deaths and there have been over 46.8 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. A race for a vaccine has been undertaken, with several viable options currently in phase 3 human trials. Many of the leading candidates are based on the soluble severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

A new hyper-potent candidate has been created by UW using nanoparticles. In a mouse model, the vaccine was found to produce 10 times more neutralizing antibodies. According to the study, this was at a 6-fold lower vaccine dose.

The mouse model also showed an enduring B-cell response post immunization, which is crucial for immune memory and vaccine durability. The vaccine uses neutralizing antibodies that target multiple different sites on the spike protein. This may also potentially protect against mutated strains of the virus.

"We hope that our nanoparticle platform may help fight this pandemic that is causing so much damage to our world," said Neil King, assistant professor of biochemistry at the UW School of Medicine and inventor of the computational vaccine design technology, in a press release. "The potency, stability, and manufacturability of this vaccine candidate differentiate it from many others under investigation."

The vaccine has been transferred to 2 companies for clinical development. Currently, hundreds of vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are in development. An ultrapotent vaccine that can be stored outside of a freezer can help enable global vaccination, according to the study authors.

REFERENCE

Ultrapotent COVID-19 vaccine candidate designed via computer [News Release] November 2, 2020; Seattle, WA. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/uowh-ucv110220.php. Accessed November 3, 2020.