Emergex Vaccines signs Collaboration Agreement with Brazil’s Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz for the Development of a COVID-19 Vaccine


  • Bio-Manguinhos, is a world leader in vaccine development and manufacturing and one of the productive units of Fiocruz, one of the world’s most respected public health research

Abingdon, Oxon, UK, 5 January 2021 – Emergex Vaccines Holding Limited (‘Emergex’, or ‘the Company’), a company tackling major global infectious disease threats through the development of synthetic ‘set point’ vaccines which prime the T-Cell immune response, today announces that it has signed a collaboration and development agreement with the Institute of Technology on Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos) of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Brazil to develop a COVID-19 vaccine using Emergex’s next generation synthetic T-Cell vaccine technology.

The agreement provides a framework under which both parties will work together to progress certain immunotherapeutic programmes, including a vaccine candidate for COVID-19, through a regulatory pathway for the Brazilian National Health Service. Emergex will also support the performance of studies, including clinical trials, and to manufacture, market, promote and distribute certain infectious diseases vaccines within the National Health Service of Brazil.

Emergex has already completed preclinical development work including toxicology and immunoproteomic research into the MHC Class I peptide expression library for cell surface expressed peptides on SARS-Cov-2 infected cells, which define the repertoire of an effective T-Cell immune response to the COVID-19 disease.

In August 2020, a previous research collaboration between Emergex and Bio-Manguinhos / Fiocruz resulted in the determination of the MHC CD8 T-Cell epitope expression library for Fiocruz’s commercial yellow fever vaccine.

Bio-Manguinhos / Fiocruz and Emergex will share initial set up and development costs. Further financial details have not been disclosed.

Storme Moore-Thornicroft, COO and co-founder of Emergex, commented: “Bio-Manguinhos Institute of the Oswald Cruz Foundation, is a world leader in the development and manufacturing of vaccines. This agreement, which will enable us to work alongside Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz to develop our COVID-19 vaccine candidate, is an important validation of the potential of our technology. Access to a COVID-19 vaccine which is both easy to manufacture and deploy is critical, particularly in a country as large as Brazil and where there have been more than 6 million cases of COVID-19 reported to date.”

Sotiris Missailidis, Deputy Director of Technological Development of Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz, commented: “Given the geographical scale and logistical difficulties that underlie distributing a vaccine across Brazil, Emergex’s expertise and technology could play a vital role in overcoming such challenges, including the potential to allow for mass rollout of a vaccine for COVID-19. Emergex vaccines are 100% synthetic, requiring no biology for manufacturing, making rapid scale-up and production possible. Furthermore, delivery through a microneedle system on a single patch, make them easy to administer, requiring less clinical intervention, and allowing for wider public adoption. We look forward to working with Emergex on this and other co-development projects to bring safe and affordable vaccines to the Brazilian public market.

– Ends –

For further information, please contact:

At the Company
Storme Moore-Thornicroft, Executive Director
Phone: +44 (0)1235 527589
Email: smt@emergexvaccines.com
Consilium Strategic Communications
Chris Gardner / Sue Stuart / Ashley Tapp / Carina Jurs
Phone: +44 (0)20 3709 5700
Email: Emergex@consilium-comms.com

About Emergex
Emergex, a biotechnology company headquartered in Abingdon, UK, with an operating subsidiary in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, USA, is pioneering the development of synthetic ‘set point’ vaccines which prime the T-cell immune response to address some of the world’s most immediate health threats such as COVID-19, Dengue Fever, Zika, Ebola, pandemic flu and serious intra-cellular bacterial infections.

These set-point vaccines modify the initial immune status of recipients in a way that ‘primes’ their immune systems to recognise subsequent infectious agents much like a natural infection would do, preventing an acute or severe manifestation of the disease.

Emergex combines validated technologies together with the very latest scientific insights in immunology and virology to develop its vaccines, including the use of synthetic peptide codes determined on actual infected cells and using a proprietary gold nanoparticle carrier system for programming.

The Company has a growing pipeline of vaccine candidates. The most advanced development programme is a vaccine for Dengue Fever, which may also be disease modifying for other Flaviviruses such as the Zika and Yellow Fever viruses. Emergex also has programmes in development for a universal Influenza vaccine and a universal Filovirus vaccine (including viruses such as Ebola and Marburg) and discovery programmes for a Yellow Fever Booster vaccine and a Chikungunya vaccine.

Emergex has partnered with the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) of Singapore to develop a vaccine for the emerging threat of Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFM) disease. The Company also has a collaboration in place with Brazil-based Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz for the development of several vaccine candidates, including a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

Find out more online at www.emergexvaccines.com.

Background to Emergex Vaccine Approach:
Both naïve T-Cells and memory T-Cells are activated in an acute viral infection via trogocytosis (or cross-dressing). This is a process in which a donor antigen presenting cell (APC) has acquired MHC Class I peptide complexes from an infected cell by membrane capture. This critical pathway ensures that the immune system is only activated by viral peptides that are present in infected cells and the resulting T-Cell repertoire accurately reflects only those targets expressed on infected cells. The other mechanisms of APC processing, such as direct priming (requires APC to be infected by the virus) or cross-presentation (requires APC to process protein fragments of the virus after the virus has successfully replicated and is producing virions) can lead to off-target T-Cell responses and a delay in response. Trogocytosis is the main mechanism of alloantigen recognition in acute allograft rejection. Emergex vaccines incorporate only peptides shown to be physically presented on class I molecules (independent of length or predicted affinity) in infected cells (pMHC target expression library) which can lead to cross-dressing of APCs – in contrast to peptides predicted hypothetically by computer or predicted from T-Cell reactivity to peptide pools in convalescent blood – many of which will be off-target.

By the use of microneedle injection from a small patch, Emergex unique TAP-responsive peptide delivery system mimics the trogocytosis process by directly cross-dressing skin reactive dendritic cells which are actively transported by rapidly migrating dendritic cells to multiple lymphoid organs. In vivo murine experiments on Dengue, Zika, SARS-2 and influenza have shown that doses as low as several femtomoles can generate robust T-Cell immune response resulting in Cytotoxic T lymphocytes that kill viral infected cells.