Vaccine Development Coronavirus Vaccines

Coronavirus Vaccines

In humans, coronaviruses can cause serious lower respiratory tract infections, (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia, or a severe respiratory illness) such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), or coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) along with other serious systemic complicationsor mild upper respiratory tract infections akin to common cold or the flu. 

CVD has a successful track record of developing and advancing recombinant protein-based vaccines against coronaviruses, SARS and MERS, recently COVID-19.The team leveraged its extensive previous expertise in generating vaccines using a traditional recombinant-based approach to forge new strategic global alliances and accelerate the design, process, and evaluation of an affordable, safe, effective, and globally accessible vaccine against COVID-19.

  • 1st Generation Coronavirus Vaccine (SARS and MERS vaccines)
    • In 2011, CVD embarked on efforts to develop vaccines against coronaviruses, becoming one of the first major groups to recognize the potential pandemic threat of coronaviruses.  Our coronavirus vaccine development program was initiated with support from the NIAID/NIH and in partnership with the New York Blood Center (NYBC), the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Immune Design, a therapeutic vaccine product development company, to develop two recombinant subunit vaccines to protect against the coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS outbreaks.
    • We found that a deglycosylated variant, RBD219-N1 exhibited high expression yield, and maintained the antigenicity and functionality of the wild-type protein. More importantly, it induced significantly stronger RBD-specific antibody responses and a higher level of neutralizing antibodies in immunized mice than the wild-type.
    • Recently, this vaccine candidate, was technology- transferred to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) for cGMP manufacturing. A batch of clinical-grade vaccine was generated and is currently undergoing clinical trials. 
    • We also forged an alliance with Seattle-based non-profit, PATH, to shape a regulatory and global access strategy for the both vaccine programs vaccine. PATH previously led the development and introduction of the meningococcal A and malaria vaccines for Africa.
    • We continue to develop vaccines against SARS and MERS coronaviruses, so we can be ready in case these infections re-emerge and also because such research would likely inform the development of countermeasures against other highly pathogenic COVID-19 variants or other coronaviruses that could emerge in human populations in the future. 
    • Selected Publications
  • 2nd Generation Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine
    •  In December 2019, COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China. This highly transmissible virus spread rapidly from infected individuals with or without symptoms leading to a global pandemic with catastrophic consequences.
    • Our strategy to combat this global public health crisis was to develop a safe, effective and low-cost vaccine against COVID-19 using recombinant protein-based vaccines, a previously well-established and proven technology that is used in many countries worldwide to produce other vaccines. This approach allowed us to leverage the extensive knowledge about the biology of coronaviruses we had acquired in the past decade when we were developing vaccines against SARS and MERS. Our COVID-19 vaccine was developed in a record timeframe (18 months). We established a partnership with Bio E, an Indian pharmaceutical company, to immediately deploy it into clinical trials and it is currently undergoing Phase III testing.
    • The accelerated pace of the development of this vaccine was only possible because of CVD’s previous extensive experience and deep expertise in successfully generating vaccines against first generation of coronaviruses (SARS AND MERS). Fortunately, the Center had already established and optimized robust processes, quality-control and project management systems that ensured successful development and clinical deployment of this vaccine with the limited timeframe. The team continues to work hard to ensure global availability of this vaccine.
  • Universal Coronavirus Vaccines
    •  In parallel to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Center researchers are working to accelerate the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine. COVID-19 represents the third major coronavirus pandemic of the 21st century, beginning with SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012.  We launched our coronavirus vaccine program at Texas Children’s CVD in 2012 following the emergence of MERS as the second major coronavirus causing serious illness and death. We are confident that COVID-19 will not be the last major coronavirus. While we can certainly accelerate new coronavirus vaccines for each emerging new virus, an ideal situation would be to create a single vaccine that might simultaneously protect against multiple coronaviruses and we are actively involved in building such a vaccine.

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