Tonix Pharmaceuticals has signed a research collaboration and exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Alberta in Canada for three new vaccine candidates to prevent Covid-19.

The partnership will develop the three vaccine candidates, which are based on the horsepox vector platform and designed to express various SARS-CoV-2 antigens.

In February this year, Tonix Pharmaceuticals collaborated with non-profit Southern Research to develop another Covid-19 vaccine candidate, TNX-1800, which is also based on horsepox vector platform but designed to express SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein.

The three newly licensed Covid-19 vaccine candidates are named TNX-1810, TNX-1820 and TNX-1830.

Horsepox is the vector system that forms the company’s TNX-801 potential vaccine for smallpox and monkeypox. TNX-801 has been developed to induce predominant T cell responses, while the new vaccine candidates are meant for pure T cell responses.

University of Alberta professor David Evans said: “TNX-1810, TNX-1820 and TNX-1830 are designed to express different protein antigens from SARS-CoV-2. It is currently unknown what type of vaccine and which antigens from SARS-CoV-2 will provide effective protection from Covid-19.

“Orthopoxviruses like horsepox induce strong innate and adaptive immunity and long-lasting T-cell immunity. We have designed TNX-1810, TNX-1820 and TNX-1830 to express and induce immunity to SARS-CoV-2 proteins that are different from Spike.”

Evans is the principal investigator of the TNX-1810, TNX-1820 and TNX-1830 research project.

As part of the research collaboration agreement, Tonix has gained from the University of Alberta an exclusive licence for technology and patents associated with TNX-1810, TNX-1820 and TNX-1830.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals plans to further assess the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine candidates in preventing Covid-19 infection.

Currently, the candidates are in the pre-investigational new drug (IND) application stage of development.