An experimental vaccine for COVID-19 is being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane. Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences is developing a specific prototype affinity resin and providing technology and services to support the efforts of those scientists.
Currently in pre-clinical testing, the vaccine is being prepared to enter clinical trials.
The pharmaceutical service provider will bring manufacturing support and technology to the overall programme, including supporting the making of clinical trial phase I vaccine at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), an Australian government scientific research group.
Cytiva will also create a specific prototype affinity resin for vaccine purification at its site in Uppsala and support scale up with planning underway for phase II material manufacturing through its Fast Trak center at Locke Drive, Marlborough.
Emmanuel Ligner, President of Cytiva, said: "The COVID-19 crisis has brought together the scientific community like never before. Our global team is helping to accelerate the work of vaccine researchers like those at the University of Queensland, as well as diagnostic developers, to bring access to much-needed solutions."
UQ proprietary molecular clamp technology forms the basis of the vaccine platform, with co-inventors, Dr Keith Chappell, Dr Dan Watterson and Professor Paul Young leading the COVID-19 vaccine research programme.
The COVID-19 vaccine candidate targets the virus' 'spike protein' and is designed to lock this protein in its native shape, allowing the human immune system to be able to recognise and then neutralise the virus. Developing a prototype affinity resin for a vaccine candidate is an important step in developing the material for clinical trials as well as preparing scale up equipment for future mass production.
In January 2020, UQ was tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. One month later, the team created their first vaccine candidate in the laboratory. Widely reported as being one of the fastest moving vaccine programmes for COVID-19, UQ's candidate is currently in pre-clinical testing.
Cytiva also recently collaborated with Sona Nanotech, a diagnostics company based in Canada. Sona is leading a consortium of diagnostic test developers to create a rapid response, lateral flow test that will directly identify the COVID-19 virus and provide in-field test results in minutes, without the use of specialised laboratory equipment or technicians. Sona has now commenced development of a functional prototype of the rapid-response test.