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Nasal Spray Vaccines Get CEPI, NIH Funding

Nasal spray

(Wikimedia Commons)

6 Oct. 2022. A developer of infectious disease vaccines is gaining funds for new nasal sprays protecting against a range of coronaviruses and the sexually-transmitted disease gonorrhea. Intravacc B.V. in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, received a grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI, an international health partnership based in Oslo, Norway, and a contract from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID, part of U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Intravacc is a biotechnology company that designs protective and therapeutic vaccines with several processes that address a variety of infectious diseases and cancer. Many of their vaccines are developed without water, using freeze- or spray-drying, which the company says makes possible more stable vaccines that can be given without a syringe, and stored and shipped without refrigeration.

One of those processes creates round nanoscale particles resembling naturally emitted spheres from gram-negative bacteria. These outer membrane vesicles, as they’re called by Intravacc, contain many bacterial antigen proteins in their natural state, and are engineered by the company to express other needed properties, such as faster cell uptake, additional immune response without an adjuvant, and lower toxicity. In Jan. 2022, Science & Enterprise reported on a clinical trial in the Netherlands testing an Intravacc nasal spray vaccine protecting against Covid-19 infections developed with the outer membrane vesicle process.

The award of up to $4.8 million from CEPI funds work by Intravacc on a vaccine that protects against a broad range of betacoronaviruses, a collection of coronaviruses including the now notorious SARS-CoV-2 responsible for Covid-19 infections, as well as the earlier SARS-CoV-1 that emerged in China in 2003, and Middle East respiratory virus or MERS-CoV first found in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Betacoronaviruses are notable for their zoonotic property, the ability to jump from animals to humans.

Common sexually-transmitted disease among young adults

Intravacc plans to use the CEPI funds to advance its candidate nasal spray code-named Avacc 101 through preclinical stages as a broad-range betacoronavirus vaccine. The company says Avacc 101 will be designed to generate immune responses to a universal betacoronavirus spike protein, as well as T-cells from the immune system, in nasal mucous membranes to prevent personal infections and spread of the virus to others.

“To secure the gains we’ve made,” says CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett in a statement, “we must continue to develop vaccines that provide broad protection against these variants to mitigate the need for regular variant boosters, and which can also provide protection against other, more lethal, coronavirus threats including MERS-CoV.”

Yesterday, Intravacc announced NIAID is awarding the company a $14.6 million contract to develop a nasal spray vaccine against gonorrhea, a common sexually-transmitted disease among young adults. The agency is funding some $2 million for work through October 2023. The new vaccine, says Intravacc, will be designed with engineered outer membrane vesicles to protect against infections from Neisseria gonorrhoeae or NG bacteria responsible for the disease.

The company’s vaccine code-named NGoXIM is made with outer membrane vesicles from NG bacteria, enhanced with microspheres containing the human immune system cytokine interleukin-12. Intravacc says NGoXIM is already in preclinical testing, with the company expected to advance the vaccine to produce doses for an early-stage clinical trial in healthy adults.

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