Oxford spin-out receives funding for new COVID-19 vaccine developed using insect cells

Coronavirus-800x450

Oxford Brookes spinout company Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd (OET) has been awarded a grant from Innovate UK to support a partnership with Vaxine Pty Ltd to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

OET emerged from a collaboration between Oxford Brookes University and the Natural Environment Research Council to provide products, services and consultancy to the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries from its base at the The Bioinnovation Hub (BiH) at Oxford Brookes University.

The grant will accelerate the creation of the Covax-19® vaccine, which is being developed by Vaxine, an Australian biotechnology company focussing on the development of innovative vaccine technologies.

The best validated approach to protect individuals against coronaviruses such as COVID-19 is to target the spike protein that surrounds the virus particle and which plays a key role in cellular attachment and virus entry into cells.  Covax-19® is a vaccine based on production of recombinant spike protein manufactured in insect cells and the Innovate UK grant will enable OET experts to use their technology to help Vaxine to improve the yield and scale of production.

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, Research Director of Vaxine and a Professor at Flinders University said: “Vaxine’s focus is always on vaccine safety and tolerability, as well as effectiveness. The insect cell protein expression system offers the best safety and tolerability and that was why we chose it for production of our Covax-19® vaccine.

“We are hoping to make Covax-19® globally available and this UK Innovate grant will now accelerate this process.”

Professor Linda King, Professor of Virology at Oxford Brookes University and co-founder of OET said: “Effective vaccines against COVID-19 are desperately needed to allow all our lives go back to normal and OET in collaboration with Oxford Brookes is delighted to be assisting Vaxine with Covax-19®.”

Professor Robert Possee CEO of OET explains: “It is a great opportunity to be able to use our knowledge of insect cell expression systems to help the Vaxine team with their COVID-19 vaccine, insect cell systems offer many benefits including safety, high yields and low costs and allow rapid vaccine strain changes in event the virus mutates.”

The next step for Vaxine in addition to planning clinical trials in the UK, will be to undertake an international Phase 3 clinical trial of Covax-19® to confirm its ability to protect against COVID-19 infection. It is hoped the vaccine will be available in early 2021.