CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, announced a ninth worldwide collaboration to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. CEPI will invest an initial US$3.5 million in a partnering agreement with Clover Biopharmaceuticals AUS Pty Ltd a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals, Inc, bringing the organisation’s total investment in COVID-19 vaccine research & development to US$39.6m.
This initial CEPI investment will support Clover Australia in its efforts to initiate a phase 1 clinical trial in Australia of its COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidate. This innovative vaccine candidate is based on Clover Biopharmaceutical’s proprietary Trimer-Tag© vaccine technology platform, which is a novel way to produce the spike proteins of the COVID-19 virus in a native trimeric form for use in a vaccine. If successful in clinical trials, Clover Biopharmaceuticals has the capacity to rapidly scale up the production of the vaccine using its in-house biomanufacturing capabilities.
To date, CEPI has provided initial support and funding to Curevac, Inc., Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Moderna, Inc., Novavax, Inc., The University of Hong Kong, The University of Oxford, The University of Queensland and a consortium led by Institut Pasteur to develop COVID-19 vaccine candidates
This investment is the result of a recent global call for proposals that CEPI issued in early February, which invited funding applications for vaccine technology that could be used to rapidly develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, and most importantly at scale and with the necessary equitable access provisions.
CEPI recently officially announced that it has opened a Representative Office in Shanghai. Through its Shanghai Representative Office?CEPI will seek cooperation with China in the prevention and control of pandemic diseases, including funding of public health research projects, technical research and development of vaccines, and international scientific, technology and development cooperation and exchanges.
COVID-19 S-Trimer vaccine
Utilizing Clover’s proprietary Trimer-Tag© technology, S-Trimer is a trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike (S)-protein subunit vaccine candidate. Similar to other enveloped RNA viruses such as HIV, RSV and Influenza, SARS-CoV-2 is also an RNA virus that has a trimeric spike (S) protein on its viral envelope. The trimeric S protein of SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for binding to host cell surface receptor ACE2 and subsequent viral entry, making it the primary target antigen for vaccine development. S-Trimer resembles the native trimeric viral spike protein and is produced via a rapid mammalian cell-culture based expression system.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has reached over US$750 million of its $1 billion funding target. CEPI’s priority diseases include Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invests in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (ie, Disease X).