Peptide vaccine against COVID-19 in development

image of a syringe and coronavirus to show Peptide vaccine against COVID-19 in development

Independent clinical-stage biotech AXON Neuroscience has announced it has a promising peptide vaccine against COVID-19 in development.

Axon has announced its development of COVIDAX, a vaccine against COVID-19, with a unique approach based on 20 years of its team’s research in Alzheimer disease.

Founded by Prof Novak, who together with Nobel Laureates Claude Wischik, Cesar Milstein and Aron Klug from Laboratory of Molecular Biology, MRC, Cambridge, UK, made a breakthrough in the research of Alzheimer in 1988, Axon has been primarily focused on the treatment of Alzheimer disease. The company has also developed a safe and scalable peptide vaccination platform.

Axon used its established peptide-based vaccine platform to produce a novel prophylactic COVID-19 vaccine, intended to protect healthy individuals from infection. Axon’s vaccine contains only selected epitopes capable of inducing desirable T cell and B cell mediated immune responses to prevent interaction of the virus Spike (S) glycoprotein with its target human cells, thus preventing the virus from entering the cells and spreading. This approach is designed to prevent the unwanted serious side effects observed in previous studies of conventional vaccines against SARS-CoV.

“There is a global race to vaccine, with high stakes and many large corporations under a lot of pressure. We believe that given our 20 years of research in Alzheimer’s, we have a unique position to leverage our vaccine technology to fight the COVID-19 more safely, especially in the most vulnerable population,” explained Michal Fresser, Chief Executive Officer of Axon Neuroscience.

What isn’t often discussed, is that the older people at risk for COVID-19 are prone to developing serious respiratory complications and pneumonia, which might result in permanent lung damage or even death. Based on its previous research, Axon’s primary focus is its technology’s proven ability to stimulate the immune systems of older people and those with immunodeficiencies in order to produce a high antibody response.

At the same time, Axon is aligning  resources to begin a quick and inexpensive manufacturing of the vaccines, together with its long standing European global leader in peptide vaccine manufacturing.

Axon has developed its vaccine AADvac1, which is a clinically-advanced tau therapy in development for treating and preventing Alzheimer’s Disease. At the end of 2019, Axon successfully completed a phase 2 clinical trial in almost 200 Alzheimer’s patients, which revealed strong safety, immunogenicity and efficacy. The evidence from its clinical trials on Alzheimer’s disease proved its peptide-based vaccine platform safe and well tolerated. Over 80% of the people with Alzheimer’s that were treated demonstrated strong immune response and generated a robust quantity of antibodies.

The plan is to enter in-human clinical trials stage I in Autumn 2020, with a potential completion and launch of the vaccine in 2021.