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Intravacc partners with Wageningen Bioveterinary Research and Utrecht University to develop an intranasal COVID-19 vaccine

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Intravacc, one of the world’s leading translational research and development vaccine institutes, with an extensive track record in developing viral and bacterial vaccines, has announced more details on its development of an intranasal vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine will be developed through a newly established public private partnership that combines the vaccine development technology from Intravacc, the viral vector technology and animal technologies from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) based in Lelystad, the Netherlands, and the coronavirus expertise from Dutch Utrecht University.

The aim of this partnership is to develop an intranasal vaccine to protect humans against COVID-19. The vaccine will consist of a Newcastle disease virus (NDV) vector that expresses the immunogenic spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, which is an important target for neutralizing antibodies. NDV has been shown to be safe for intranasal/intratracheal delivery in mammals, including non-human primates.

The advantage of a nasal vaccination is that it induces both mucosal and systemic immunity, whereas an intramuscular vaccination primarily induces an antibody response. In addition, intranasal vaccination may also confer protection against infections at other mucosal sites, such as the lungs, intestines and genital tract. On top of this the nasal cavity is also  easily accessible.

Ludo Hellebrekers DVM, Director Wageningen Bioveterinary Research  (WBVR) stated:

”Intravacc, WBVR and Utrecht University create major synergy by combining distinct complimentary expertise and competencies. A promising collaboration!”

Intravacc will develop a scalable vaccine production process using its FDA-approved Vero cell platform, in preparation of GMP productions. The availability of a safe and efficacious vaccine against COVID-19 will have a large social and economic impact by reduction of severe disease and mortality, lifting bans on (inter)national travel and large gatherings, as well as by reducing the burden on the public healthcare system.

WBVR has developed a technique called ‘reverse genetics’, which allows the genetic modification of Newcastle disease virus (NDV). NDV can cause disease in birds but is harmless for mammalian species including humans. WBVR has used the reverse genetics technique to develop NDV as a vaccine vector against human and animal infectious diseases. This vector technology will now be used to generate a vaccine against COVID-19.

Dr Jan Groen, CEO of Intravacc, said:

“Intravacc’s strength is its ability of bridging the gap between academia and research centers towards pharma. Together with our partners WBVR and Utrecht University, we combine our expertise in developing an intranasal corona virus vaccine. Our safe Vero cell platform, widely used for the production of Polio vaccines, put us in the position to fast track the production of pilot lot of this NCD vector-based vaccine concept and to subsequently transfer this to large vaccine manufactures.”

About Intravacc’s Vero cell platform

Intravacc’s viral vaccine production process is based on a cGMP-grade, regulatory approved, Vero cell line. This platform is being used for routine large-scale commercial vaccine manufacturing by clients world-wide. In addition, virus seed lots and clinical batches have regularly been produced on the Vero cells, for example Poliovirus, Enterovirus (EV71), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).