Arcturus Therapeutics partners with medical school for coronavirus vaccine

5 March 2020 (Last Updated March 6th, 2020 07:20)

Arcturus Therapeutics, a RNA medicines company, and Duke-NUS Medical School have partnered to develop a coronavirus Covid-19 vaccine for Singapore.

Arcturus Therapeutics partners with medical school for coronavirus vaccine
The vaccine against Covid-19 is based on Arcturus’s STARR technology. Credit: mattthewafflecat via Pixabay.

Arcturus Therapeutics, a RNA medicines company, and Duke-NUS Medical School have partnered to develop a coronavirus Covid-19 vaccine for Singapore.

The development of this vaccine will be based on Arcturus’s STARR technology and will tap a platform developed at Duke-NUS to enable quick screening of vaccines for effectiveness and safety.

The STARR Technology platform brings together self-replicating RNA with LUNAR, a nanoparticle non-viral delivery system, to generate proteins within the body.

Given the superior immune response and sustained protein expression, the STARR Technology is expected to generate a vaccine response at lower doses as against traditional mRNA vaccines.

This is expected to lead to the ability to treat many people with a single GMP-manufactured production batch.

Arcturus Therapeutics president and CEO Joseph Payne said: “We have observed STARR technology in pre-clinical models to be effective at extraordinarily low doses — greater than 30-fold more efficient than traditional mRNA.  The Arcturus manufacturing process has been applied in multiple large GMP batches of highly pure RNA in our LUNAR-OTC program.  If successful, Arcturus could develop a vaccine capable of vaccinating millions of people for a fraction of the cost of traditional mRNA vaccines.”

Duke-NUS Medical School dean and professor Thomas M Coffman said: “Duke-NUS has been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, developing the first serological tests for COVID-19 and was among the first groups to isolate and culture the virus. The partnership with Arcturus Therapeutics combines complementary strengths as we work together to fight this global outbreak.”

The self-replicating RNA-based therapeutic vaccine will stimulate rapid and prolonged antigen expression within host cells, thereby leading to protective immunity against infectious pathogens.