As part of its efforts to develop a variant-proof Covid vaccine, ExcellGene, a provider of R&D manufacturing for the biopharmaceutical industry, will produce complex chimeric spike antigens using its engineered CHOExpress cell-based technology.

CHO cells are derived from the ovary of the Chinese hamster meant for use in biological and medical research, and in the commercial production of therapeutic proteins.  Together with Bharat Biotech and a team from the University of Sydney, Switzerland-based ExcellGene will generate and screen a large and diverse library of chimeric spike proteins to identify highly cross-reactive antigen structures that recall past and possibly future variants, according to a release.

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International, the producer of Covaxin, has partnered with ExcellGene and the University of Sydney to develop variant-proof Covid vaccines.

The consortium funding is through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Bharat Biotech will undertake large scale commercial manufacturing of vaccines developed from this project. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, BBIL, said: “The global threat of SARSCoV-2 is continuing with new infections over and over again, irrespective of prior infections or vaccinations. Thus, more applied research has to be done, both in laboratories like those of Prof Triccas, and in a company like ExcellGene, that can provide entirely new antigen concepts that combine insights into SARS-CoV-2 gained over the last two and a half years.’‘

He further said: “We are, therefore, very pleased in having convinced the CEPI organisation that our partnership over three continents is a robust solution that promises to open a new door for a future cross-reactive vaccine.’‘ The consortium partnership strives to advance a new vaccine concept that confers highly cross-reactive protection against numerous SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VoCs) as well as other Betacoronaviruses.  As per an earlier announcement, CEPI will provide up to $19.3 million in funding to develop a ‘variant-proof’ SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate for phase I clinical trials.  According to Maria Wurm, CEO of ExcellGene, his Company’s technology shows the ‘value’ of using a CHO-based technology platform to produce optimized antigens for vaccine production. “This new CEPI partnership is a great opportunity to showcase what is possible in the manufacturing of highly complex antigen structures, consisting of computer-designed individual monomers, for a potential variant-proof Covid-19 vaccine,’‘ the CEO said.