ARTES Biotechnology has begun development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates based on its virus-like particle (VLP)-based platform technologies METAVAX® and SplitCore.
METAVAX uses enveloped VLPs (eVLPs) based on the duck Hepatitis B small surface antigen. SplitCore uses capsid VLPs (cVLPs) as antigen presentation vehicles without the involvement of host lipid membrane structures.
The development approach of ARTES is designed to present domains of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 – with or without an antigen derived from the virus nucleocapsid protein – on the surface of eVLPs (METAVAX) and cVLPs (SplitCore).
ARTES Managing Director Dr Michael Piontek said: “The compelling advantage of our technology is the cost-effective production of efficacious and safe vaccines in a platform already applied in mass vaccination programs.”
Virus-like particles are highly organised protein structures that mimic the conformation of authentic native viruses without being infectious. They consist of one or more structural proteins that have the ability to self-assemble to mimic the structure of real viruses and to present foreign epitopes or complete antigens on their surface. Because they lack a viral genome, recombinant VLPs offer advantages over native viruses while at the same time maintaining the same potential to trigger a strong immune response.
In September 2019, ARTES and Australian Burnett Institute published data on the efficient production of malaria vaccine candidates using virus-like particles (eVLP) produced with ARTES’ METAVAX platform presenting malaria transmission-stage antigens, which were capable of inducing transmission-blocking antibodies. In relation to SplitCore, borrelia antigen presenting cVLP were developed by the University of Freiburg, Germany, and resulted in the induction of neutralising antibodies against Lyme disease. In a similar approach, SARS-CoV-2 antigens known to induce neutralising antibodies will be presented by METAVAX and SplitCore VLPs.
Link to Press Release.