Candidate: COVID-19 vaccine designed to both treat and protect against SARS-CoV-2

Category: VAX

Type: Vaccine based on the company’s bioparticle-based system designed to deliver proteins for drugs and vaccines. The system uses “vaults,” genetically modified versions of naturally occurring nanoparticles found inside every human cell, and measured in billionths of a meter. The barrel-shaped nanoparticles consist of a shell made of 78 copies of one particular protein, housing two additional proteins and some genetic material.

Status: Vault Pharma said June 1 it is working with UCLA and other universities to advance a COVID-19 vaccine designed by the company with the lab of co-founder Leonard H. Rome, PhD, distinguished professor of biological chemistry and associate director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA. Joining the Rome lab in designing the vaccine are research teams led by Otto O. Yang, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; and Jeff F. Miller, UCLA’s Fred Kavli Professor of NanoSystems Sciences and the director of CNSI.

Candidate vaccines will be tested by Northern Arizona University’s C. Todd French, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences, who is developing animal models for studying coronavirus in NAU’s COVID-19 Testing Service Center.

Working with Mark Arbing, PhD, director of the Fermentation Core Facility in the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute, Vault Pharma and researchers have developed a method for prompting engineered yeast to produce custom-designed vaults. Production of vaccine-laden vaults will be scaled up at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Biological Process Development Facility, for research and scale-up into clinical trials.

Headquartered on campus at CNSI’s Magnify incubator, Vault Pharma is one of 12 portfolio companies of Multiverse Investment Fund I.

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:


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