Tonix Pharmaceuticals has partnered with non-profit Southern Research to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 using the former’s horsepox vaccine platform.
The partners intend to work on TNX-1800, a live modified horsepox virus vaccine formulated for percutaneous administration.
Tonix Pharmaceuticals is currently developing TNX-801, live horsepox virus vaccine for percutaneous administration, to potentially prevent smallpox and monkeypox.
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As part of the latest research alliance, the companies will develop and evaluate TNX-1800 as a potential coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine candidate is said to express a protein from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
It is believed that a horsepox virus possesses the potential to act as a vector for vaccines against other infections.
According to previous reports from Tonix, horsepox has efficacy as a potential vaccine with good tolerability in mice and macaques.
The company added that horsepox is similar to vaccinia vaccines, a group of orthopoxviruses used as smallpox vaccines.
Tonix Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr Seth Lederman said: “Although vaccinia vectors are available, different orthopoxvirus strains may behave differently as vectors in part because of their different repertoire of genes that modulate immune responses and host range.
“Potential advantages of horsepox are the strong immunogenicity we observed in macaques and mice with good tolerability. The protein synthesis connected with a replicating live virus vaccine provides direct antigen presentation, which can stimulate cellular immunity in addition to humoral immunity.”
Southern Research will assess one or more Tonix horsepox vector-based vaccine constructs, which express one or more SARS-CoV-2 proteins or protein fragments.
The non-profit research organisation’s senior scientist Scott Goebel has experience with vaccinia and orthopoxvirus vaccines research. Goebel also studied coronaviruses.