Candidate: mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2

Category: RNA, VAX

Type: Intranasal vaccine integrating eTheRNA’s 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 on a single mRNA construct, using an in-silico epitope prediction and design approach from EpiVax to identify the target; and an intranasal vaccine delivery platform using a nasal atomizer and a proprietary formulation that delivers the mRNA to the nasal mucosa and optimizes expression.

eTheRNA said a formulation candidate is being repurposed for clinical use in collaboration with REPROCELL.

Status: eTheRNA said June 16 it raised €34 million ($38.5 million) in series B equity financing, with proceeds set to fund advancement of the company’s infectious diseases pipeline, including its SARS-CoV-2 program, and its oncology programs. eTheRNA added that it agreed with China Grand Pharmaceutical (GP) on an outline of terms for a possible exclusive strategic partnership for mRNA manufacturing, independent research and development, production, and commercialization in Greater China.

Participating in the financing were new investors Grand Decade, a BVI subsidiary owned by GP and Healthcare Holdings, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, Yijing Capital, and Novalis LifeSciences—as well as all existing investors: LSP, PMV, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Fund+, and Omega Funds.

In March, eTheRNA said it started preclinical development of an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that is intended primarily for high-risk populations such as healthcare workers and families of confirmed cases. It is also designed to be protective against future variations of the virus by targeting conserved epitopes from the whole CoV-2 genome.

eTheRNA said it has formed a consortium with EpiVax, Nexelis, REPROCELL and CEV to develop the vaccine and help accelerate progress towards clinical trials; patient enrolment is expected in early 2021. Chinese partners may join the consortium “in due course,” the company added.

The consortium’s approach selects conserved epitopes from the whole viral genome to create a vaccine that mounts a strong T cell-based response against these epitopes, which the partners reason offers a better chance to overcome viral variability.

COVID-19: 200 Candidates and Counting

To navigate through the >200 potential therapeutic and vaccine options for COVID-19, GEN has grouped the candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:

FRONT RUNNER – the most promising therapeutics/vaccines based on clinical progress, favorable data or both.

DEFINITELY MAYBE – earlier phases with promising partners, or more advanced candidates in development that have generated uneven data

KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but preliminary data.

TOO SOON TO TELL – longshots pending additional experimental and/or clinical data.

GEN has also tagged the most common treatment types: