COVID-19 Coverage

EpiVax continues to drive science forward with several COVID-19 vaccine program efforts.  Please follow our coverage here for updates on vaccine development, both local and global, as well as media coverage and important public health information.

UPDATE March 27, 2020:

The Humans of EpiVax, and their sidekicks

Team EpiVax remains hard at work through this global health crisis.  Our scientists are dedicated to the cause while navigating new office protocols.  Our fearless leaders Annie De Groot and Bill Martin remain on site at our Olneyville office, along with other key members of the staff.

Many employees are now keeping safe distances and precautions, working from the their own homes.  All around spirits remain high and many EpiVax’ers have enlisted a few extra hands (or paws) to get the job done!

Click HERE to see the full gallery.  We hope you enjoy this look into our “new normal” office aesthetic. 

UPDATE March 25, 2020:

Why epitope vaccines?

Immune responses to viral infections can sometimes be detrimental to the host. While some viral antibodies are beneficial (anti-viral), others can actually be virus-aiding.  They allow the virus access to cells through non-traditional pathways such as the Fc-receptor.  This is called antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).

EpiVax is developing, among many others, an epitope-focused vaccine against CoV-SARS-2.  These novel vaccine candidates focus the immune response on specifically creating T cell memory to CoV-SARS-2. This strategy likely minimizes the B cell and antibody response compared to whole antigen/whole pathogen vaccine formulations, thereby significantly reducing the risks associated with ADE.

Read more about EpiVax’s approach on epitope vaccine design here.

UPDATE March 24, 2020:

Press Release: eTheRNA launches an international consortium and starts development of cross-strain protective CoV-2 mRNA vaccine for high risk populations

EpiVax announces it’s involvement in an international consortium for the rapid development of a mRNA vaccine for high risk populations, which include health care workers and families of those with confirmed cases.

The partnership formed between EpiVax, aTheRNA, Nexelis, REPROCELL and CEV will utilize three technologies:

  • eTheRNA’s proprietary Trimix technology: an mRNA-based vaccine adjuvant that stimulates dendritic cells into activating a strong CD4 and CD8 T cell response.
  • A combination of T cell epitopes from the virus brought together on a single mRNA construct. For SARS-CoV-2 this will employ an in-silico epitope prediction and design approach from EpiVax Inc. to identify the target.
  • An intranasal vaccine delivery platform using a nasal atomizer and a proprietary formulation that delivers the mRNA to the nasal mucosa and optimizes expression. One of the most promising formulation candidates is being repurposed for clinical use in collaboration with REPROCELL.

Read more about the collaboration efforts here

UPDATE March 23, 2020:

With all proposed collaborations in place, EpiVax is poised to make a great impact on the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine.  However, the vaccine will not come without funding. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has called for $2 Billion USD in immediate government funding for the expansion of vaccine candidates brought to clinical trial, and the increase in chances of success.

EpiVax is happy to share that a request for funding has been submitted to MCDC (DOD).  We are eager to be a part of the solution and look forward to continuing driving science forward.

UPDATE March 20, 2020:

While we continue to pursue multiple vaccine collaborators, one of our top priorities remains health care workers.  EpiVax is developing an epitope based vaccine that could be ready in as little as 6 months. Scientists at EpiVax have a plan in place for carrying out this rapid development:

Many vaccines and treatments continue to be developed and EpiVax is proud to be on the forefront of these efforts.  You may find a complete list here

Vaccines

  • EpiVax and Generex, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • EpiVax and UGA, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • Moderna Therapeutics, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Phase 1
  • CanSino Biologics, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Phase 1
  • Arcturus Therapeutics, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • BioNTech, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • CureVac, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • GlaxoSmithKline, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • Johnson & Johnson, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • Pfizer, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical
  • Sanofi, Approach: Vaccine, Stage: Preclinical

Treatment therapies

  • Gilead Sciences, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Phase 3
  • Ascletis Pharma, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Phase 1
  • Eli Lilly, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Johnson & Johnson, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Pfizer, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Sanofi, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Takeda, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical
  • Vir Biotechnology, Approach: Treatment, Stage: Preclinical

 

UPDATE March 19, 2020:  

EpiVax is currently working on a COVID-19 vaccine tailored specifically for healthcare workers.  In an interview with WPRI 12, Dr. Anne De Groot stated: “They’re the first line of defense against the virus, so we want to give them something that will actually generate what we call ‘immune system body armor.”  It remains critical to EpiVax’s mission to develop this vaccine. 

One major hurdle: funding.  

EpiVax is currently petitioning for $300 million USD in government aid to follow through with the proper safety and efficacy testing needed to make this vaccine available as rapidly as possible.

UPDATE March 18, 2020:  

Dr. Anne De Groot speaks with local NBC 10 News‘ Tamara Sacharczyk about EpiVax’s continuing efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.  Dr. De Groot outlines the importance of EpiVax’s proprietary computer tools for rapid identification of vaccine candidates.  EpiVax maintains hope that with a peptide based vaccine, Phase 1 trials may begin in as little as 5 – 6 months.

UPDATE March 16, 2020:  

EpiVax is proud to be one of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)’s featured leaders in vaccine development for Coronavirus.

 

 

UPDATE March 16, 2020:  

As closures and cancellations increase across the state and across the country, we encourage you to remain calm, collected, and informed.  Dr. De Groot recently shared some wonderful information on public action in times of pandemic.  

At EpiVax, we are taking precautions. As the public health threat escalates, we want to assure you that EpiVax has implemented all precautionary measures recommended in the Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 developed by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Please feel free to reach out to us by emailing info@epivax.com with any questions or concerns.  

Check out Dr. De Groot’s blog, Thinking Out Loud for our preparedness plan.

UPDATE March 14, 2020:  

On Saturday 14Mar 2020 our CEO/CSO Anne De Groot was featured on 20h on France 2 with host Anne-Sophie Lapixdescribing EpIVax’s plans to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.  

 

UPDATE March 4, 2020: 

We’re working as fast as we can. Currently, the EpiVax Vaccine Team (Lenny Moise, Annie De Groot, Christine Boyle, and Lauren Meyers) are designing vaccines for four different efforts – Peptide-based vaccines (Press release HERE); A Spike-based Recombinant Protein vaccine with the University of Georgia (Press release HERE), and we are also looking to partner in RNA and DNA. 

 

Our CEO, Dr. Anne De Groot, has also been asked her professional opinion in several news outlets, including WBUR Public Radio and Providence Business News.  Dr. Lenny Moise has also spoken with local Convergence RI about EpiVax’s approach to develop a vaccine.  

Researchers working in the labs at EviVax in Providence. From left, Olivia Morin, research associate, Mitchell McAllister, research associate, working in their culture lab. PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

2019-nCOV (Coronavirus): What to know, and what to expect?

February 6, 2020 

Unless you have been in a media blackout these past two weeks, you are well aware of the latest public health threat: 2019-nCoV. This new strain of coronavirus is currently linked to over forty thousand infections and rising fatalities in China, and additional cases have been brought to other areas of the world. by air travelers.

Here’s our perspective…

Is it worse than SARS? That’s hard to say. Younger people may be more resilient, but a reported 25-30% of cases require intensive care. In truth, we don’t know because we don’t have the denominators (number of infected, number recovering), we only have the available daily updates on the situation which are available here.

Isn’t it just like the common cold? Afterall, the common cold is caused by coronaviruses. That would be nice, but, no. Our analysis of the conservation of T cell epitopes found in currently circulating strains of coronaviruses with the novel 2019 n-COV shows poor conservation of T cell epitopes (at left), this is also true for other coronaviruses like SARS, MERS, etc, at right. That’s why this virus is going to be far worse than the common cold or the flu. (For medical updates see here).

Can you make a vaccine for it? Yes we can. And, because it is an RNA virus, has the opportunity to ‘go stealth‘ due to the mutability of its genome, making it a bit more difficult. But we are working swiftly, under the direction of EpiVax Vaccine Director, Dr. Lenny Moise, to develop a computational plan of attack. Important to note – it has human-like sequences that may abrogate immune response. Like HIV. Like HCV. See below a JanusMatrix analysis of the 2019-nCOV spike protein and read see our blog post here.

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