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Zoom Fatigue is REAL!

Like you, we’ve been insanely busy with virtual conferences in the last few weeks. We are all REALLY looking forward to meeting in person again. Meanwhile, my Zoom-buddy Jack has become quite the lap(top)-dog!

 

The good news is that we have learned to broadcast cool science from our kitchens, as I did during the January 26th FDA Workshop (see also FDA website link) on generic peptide products. Follow this link to get access to my recorded immunogenicity risk assessmenwebinar describing the PANDA screening service

The FDA seminar was outstanding, in fact, lots of grest presentations by Vibha Jawa (BMS), Sophie Tourdot (Pfizer), and many others! We were super-happy to see Valerie Quarmby (Genentech) mention the “complex mathematical formula” (a.k.a Tregitope-adjusted EpiMatrix score) that was used to de-risk biologics in her presentation 😊.  She featured the great work done by the innovators at Chugai on the ground-breaking FVIII replacement bi-specific, Hemlibra.

I was also invited to present “epitope selection for cancer vaccines” using our iVAX Toolkit to OTAT at the FDA highlighting work that we’re doing on JanusMatrix this week. Contact Riley for the link to the webinar. In fact, we just analyzed nearly 5,000 T effector epitopes in the IEDB epitope database. Guess what? The epitopes with the highest cross-conservation with human genome-epitopes, as assessed by JanusMatrix, are known Treg epitopes. Aha!

ONE Year of COVID-19

March 11th will mark 12 months since the WHO classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. EpiVax has been curating a COVID-19 Coverage page to capture the latest developments  in the field. Check out a recent publication showing that SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cell responses are important determinants of immune protection in mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. What what have we learned in 12 months? T cell Response Matters! (Read our polemic about that here). 

Where has the Flu gone? I think it’s on mute. 

This interesting article from The Atlantic explains how the world has tamed flu. But, don’t slack! Keep social distancing and wearing masks – its return is inevitable.

On that note, we’re thrilled to let you know that we have a new EU-funded contract for developing a pandemic flu vaccine. We are proud participants in the International Consortium for Development of Next-generation Influenza Vaccines (INDIGO) project We’ll be applying our computational vaccinology expertise to the initial antigen design phase. More updates to come!

Rise of the Variants

COVID-19 variants have been an increasing concern since late 2020 and are now challenging the efficacy of the vaccines in use. South Africa is the place to watch, pausing their rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine this past week.

Carl Zimmer (NYT journalist) had a great feature this week on the possibility of a universal Coronavirus vaccine. Not only could such a vaccine work against COVID-19 and it’s future variants, it could offer protection against the entire family of Coronaviruses.

We think that our vaccine, EPV-CoV19 would be effective against variants. Why T-cells? It’s harder for a virus to escape from immune response induced by multiple highly conserved T cell epitopes (like the ones in our vaccine) than from antibody-directed vaccines, as new strains emerge. And yes, Carl Zimmer included a quote from our team when he wrote about  T cell response to guard against vaccine failure.

But seriously, the news out of South Africa is troubling. We are doubling our efforts to get our vaccine candidate into the clinic. If successful, this would be the first vaccine of its kind. We expect news about clinical trials imminently!

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