Applied DNA, Takis Biotech design four Covid-19 vaccine candidates

3 March 2020 (Last Updated March 3rd, 2020 11:21)
Applied DNA, Takis Biotech design four Covid-19 vaccine candidates
Applied DNA Sciences: The PCR-produced linear DNA is expected to accelerate vaccine production. Credit: Ulrike Leone from Pixabay.

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Applied DNA Sciences and Takis Biotech have designed four Covid-19 vaccine candidates to help protect against the novel coronavirus.

The companies plan to manufacture the DNA vaccine candidates using PCR-based DNA (LinearDNA) manufacturing systems for preclinical testing in animals.

Last month, Applied DNA Sciences subsidiary LineaRx expanded its collaboration with Takis Biotech for the preclinical development of a LinearDNA Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccine candidates were created using the structure of the Spike protein that allows the coronavirus to bind and infect the host cells.

One candidate comprises the complete spike gene. The remaining three preclinical vaccines are designed as variants that build on epitope mapping and assembling the related ‘S’ gene parts into a new synthetic LinearDNA gene, along with codon optimisation.

Also, Applied DNA Sciences has patent-pending approaches for genetic ensembles that boost the expression, folding efficiency and protein compartmentalisation. These could be made into the putative vaccine constructs based on the animal studies data.

Applied DNA Sciences and LineaRx president and CEO Dr James Hayward said: “We expect delivery of the 4 preclinical vaccine candidates from Takis in this month.

“Within weeks of arrival, we expect to immediately scale up PCR-based production of each vaccine candidate and ship them back to Takis who will determine each vaccine’s relative abilities to provoke an immune response in vaccinated mice.”

Under the agreement, Takis will vaccinate mice with the scaled-up LinearDNA synthetic genes for each of the four putative vaccines.

Sera from the mice will be tested for antibodies that attach to the purified Spike proteins. The potential positive candidates will be tested to determine their capacity to neutralise the coronavirus by blocking uptake of the virus in cells in culture and animal models.