Heat Biologics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has commenced a programme within its fully-owned subsidiary, Zolovax , to develop a vaccine using its gp96 vaccine platform for fighting Covid-19.

It has filed a provisional patent for use of its technology platform for treating Covid-19.

gp96 is a heat shock protein found in all human cells. It functions as a potent immune adjuvant that serves as “molecular warning system” to induce immunity against necrotic cells.

Naturally, gp96 is tethered to the cell and is normally released only during necrosis or cell death.

This vaccine platform reprogrammes live cells to continually secrete antigens bound to the gp96, thereby activating a strong T-cell response against those antigens.

Heat Biologics CEO Jeff Wolf said: “gp96 is a powerful vaccine platform that has been shown to induce a potent immune response and effectiveness in the induction of mucosal immunity in several infectious disease models. We believe this platform has the potential to provide broad protection against COVID-19, and possible future mutations of COVID-19 or other coronaviruses. We look forward to providing further updates on our progress as developments unfold.”

The gp96 platform has undergone stringent testing in several National Institutes of Health (NIH) and US Department of Defense (Dod )-funded mice and primate trials as a vaccine against SIV/HIV, malaria, zika and other infectious diseases.

It has also been tested in more than 250 patients in multiple NIH and Heat-funded oncology trials.