Oxford’s SpyBiotech and Serum Institute of India announce trial underway of a novel virus-like particle vaccine targeting COVID-19

Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine testing

SpyBiotech, a company with a novel vaccine platform to target infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases, has announced that its partner the Serum Institute of India (SIIPL) has dosed the first subjects in a Phase I/II trial of a novel virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine targeting COVID-19.

SpyBiotech based at Oxford Business Park North, has signed an exclusive global licensing agreement with SIIPL for the development of a novel virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccine targeting COVID-19.  Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. The Phase I/II study has been initiated in Australia.

The vaccine candidate uses SpyBiotech’s proprietary SpyCatcher/SpyTag protein “superglue” technology to display the coronavirus spike protein on the surface of Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) VLPs.

HBsAg VLPs are a licensed vaccine with excellent safety and immunogenicity data in humans and which are currently manufactured to billions of doses. The coronavirus spike protein’s receptor-binding domain is displayed on the VLP, taking advantage of the platform’s properties to induce a potent immune response.

SpyCatcher/SpyTag is a platform technology which allows antigens to be displayed onto VLPs with a covalent, irreversible bond in a highly stable and effective way with specific orientation/epitope presentation and high density. The technology can be used for an exceptionally broad range of applications in vaccine development and has established proof of concept data in a viral, bacterial, parasitic diseases and chronic diseases and cancer.

SpyBiotech has exclusive rights from the University of Oxford to apply, commercialise and sub-license the “plug and display” technology for vaccine development.

Professor Sumi Biswas, Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder of SpyBiotech, commented: “We are delighted to have dosed the first subjects in this trial with Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and to be advancing this COVID-19 vaccine candidate into clinical trials. “Combining SpyBiotech’s unique platform technology with Serum’s extensive expertise developing VLPs and its manufacturing capability is an exciting development at a critical time, giving us the tools to produce the large volume of doses required to support the global fight against COVID-19.

“For SpyBiotech, this is an opportunity to provide an accelerated proof point for our platform technology, alongside the other candidates which we are advancing into clinical development. Our technology can be combined with multiple vaccine delivery platforms to create a plug and display vaccine which is critical for generating vaccines rapidly and safely.”

Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of SIIPL, added: “We are very excited about the collaboration with SpyBiotech to work on this novel vaccine for COVID-19. This new technology has the potential to be a powerful new approach to tackling the pandemic. SIIPL is looking forward to working alongside SpyBiotech to advance this candidate through clinical development.”

Lachlan Mackinnon, Oxford Sciences Innovation Principal and SpyBiotech Chairman, added: “Finding a safe and effective vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus is one of the most pressing scientific challenges of our time. “Combining the benefits of SpyBiotech’s protein ‘superglue’ technology with the known safety and immunogenicity of the Serum Institute’s Hepatitis B surface antigen virus-like particle offers the potential for an effective, safe COVID-19 vaccine which could be manufactured at scale. SpyBiotech’s technology, through this agreement, can be added to a growing armoury of weapons being developed against this disease, which we’re delighted to be able to support. We hope the development programme will also help validate the broader potential of the technology, which in the future will be used to target other infectious diseases and cancer.”

SpyBiotech was spun out of the University of Oxford in 2017 has a novel vaccine platform to target infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases. SpyBiotech has the exclusive rights from the University of Oxford to apply, commercialise and sub-license the SpyTag/SpyCatcher technology in vaccine development.

SpyBiotech is supported by high quality investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the capital investor for the University of Oxford  and GV (formerly Google Ventures), and has raised £15 million in funding to date.