Tonix Pharmaceuticals has signed a research collaboration and option agreement with Columbia University to explore precision medicine approaches for vaccines and therapeutics against Covid-19.

The partners will study the immune responses to Covid-19 in healthy volunteers who recovered from the disease or were asymptomatic. The focus will be on T-cell and antibody responses at the cellular level.

The research should help in better understanding of the detailed immune responses to the disease. Tonix added that the study will provide insights on targeting vaccines and therapeutics to suitable individuals for precision medicine.

Columbia University researchers Dr Ilya Trakht and Dr Sergei Rudchenko will lead the project.

Trakht’s team will investigate T-cell and antibody responses using different techniques, including at the cellular level via stimulation of T-cells in-vitro with SARS-CoV-2 antigens and the production of fully human monoclonal antibodies against the virus.

The aim of the project is to enable the isolation and characterisation of therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies to the virus.

Meanwhile, Rudchenko’s project will work to generate DNA aptamer-based anti-idiotypes to some of the monoclonal antibodies identified by Trakht.

These type of aptamers could help in identifying biomarkers for protective CoV-2 immunity and enable precision medicine vaccines to protect against the disease.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Seth Lederman said: “We expect that more than one Covid-19 vaccine will ultimately be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a challenge for future research will be to determine which vaccine is appropriate for each individual.

“Data from this collaboration will provide a roadmap and tools to potentially guide these recommendations. It is also possible that new Covid-19 vaccines can be designed, which will be tailored to individuals by precision medicine.”

Last month, Tonix expanded its ongoing partnership with non-profit Southern Research to study T-cell immune responses to SARS-CoV-2.