Safe and efficacious SARS-CoV-2-targeted vaccine

Summary

Currently, there are no specific therapies for COVID-19. The long, asymptomatic incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in rapid mass infection across the globe. Vaccines are now crucial to alleviate the present situation.

We are developing a reproducible, biodegradable and safe nano-vaccine rationally designed for concomitant delivery of SARS-CoV-2 epitopes and regulators of immune cell function to generate protective anti-SARS-CoV-2 host responses.

Our extensive previous data on cancer and preliminary findings using SARS-CoV-2 peptides validate our hypothesis that our unique nano-vaccine will upregulate dentritic cell activation/expansion, cytokine release and thereby induce T and B cell immunity.

Achievements

This project is supported by strong preliminary data on nano-vaccine immunogenicity against cancer, including its effect on antibody secretion and T cell phenotype and function. Our established synthetic methodologies have already been applied to re-design our platform into a COVID-19 nano-vaccine. This asset will deliver combinations of adjuvants with SARS-CoV-2 peptide sequences.

We have identified, designed and synthesized SARS-CoV-2 peptide sequences by a computational approach integrating 3D information with large-scale statistical analysis. Our nano-vaccine–entrapping the first combination of SARS-CoV-2 peptides–activated DC, CD8 T cells and antibody-secreting plasma cells, and increased the production of antigen-specific IgG/IgM serum antibodies compared to controls.

Next Steps

Thanks to the support of CaixaImpulse, we will generate a preventive and therapeutic SARS-CoV-2 DC-targeted vaccine ready for first-in-human clinical trials. This asset will protect the worldwide population and treat COVID-19 patients.

Team

Assistant Professor, with tenure; Head of Research BioNanoSciences Group

Helena Florindo

Project leader

Full Professor, Head of Cancer Research and Nanomedicine Laboratory

Ronit Satchi-Fainaro

COVID-19

Scientific Area

Clinical sciences

Business area

Therapeutic

Research center

Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon