In the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, broadly applicable serological testing is urgently needed in order to understand, who has developed immunity after recovering from the infection, and how broadly the virus has penetrated the general population. In addition, a potent and reliable vaccine is required to prevent future outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses.
Viravaxx is answering both challenges.
In this project, a microarray is constructed based on our innovative Si/SiO2 microchip platform, which covers the proteome of the SARS-CoV- 2 virus with glycosylated and non-glycosylated proteins and protein fragments as well as a library of overlapping peptides derived from virus structural proteins. This microarray allows high resolution epitope mapping and the identification of antigenic determinants, which elicit a neutralizing immune response.
Virus neutralization capacity is confirmed in an ELISA assay, in which the antisera inhibit the binding of SARS-CoV-2 S protein to immobilized ACE2. Sera specimens are obtained from a clinical trial with 200 convalescent patients with severe and 200 with mild disease course; 200 unaffected subjects will serve as control. Thsi study already has received provisional ethics approval.
From both assays together, protective antibody signatures are derived, using machine learning algorithms. These signatures are then employed to construct vaccine candidates based on our proprietary PCFiT platform. As already proven in our HBV and RSV projects, these antigens will elicit a potent and focused humoral immune response to antigenic determinants leading to protective immunity. By incorporating epitopes conserved across human pathogenic coronaviruses, the company expect to obtain a vaccine active against mutant and possible future zoonotic coronaviruses.
Through this joint effort, the partners expect to make a major contribution to conquering the pandemic and making a return to normal life possible for people worldwide.