‘Snapping genetic Legos together’: Ufovax creates plug-and-play nanoparticle vaccine technology
Ufovax created the nanoparticle vaccine platform technology after correlative research of combining single B-cell technologies with deep sequencing enabled the discovery of antibodies involved in the purification of vaccines as well as the quantitative evaluation of vaccine-induced antibody responses in human trials.
A spokesperson for Ufovax told us that 1c-SApNP is a “single-component, self-assembling protein nanoparticle” platform that makes vaccine development, particularly for class I viruses, as “straightforward as snapping genetic Legos together.”
The platform stabilizes the optimal antigen of immunogen and predicts mutations capable of stabilizing the antigen in its uncleaved, pre-fusion, optimized (UFO) state. The platform also tests the vaccine nanoparticle and genetically engineers the antigen to fuse genetic sequencing to encode the protein nanoparticle core.
The organization is working on applying the platform to viruses that are present dangers to global health. The spokesperson stated that viruses utilizing the class I fusion mechanism have trimeric surface antigens responsible for cell entry and the platform can be used through a plug-and-play approach to address them.
Ufovax’s spokesperson also told us, “Since 1c-SApNPs often have exposed N- and C-termini on the surface, it is possible to genetically fuse a large antigen to a 1c-SApNP subunit and the fusion construct will still express and self-assemble.” These large antigens to be fused include SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, which would be very difficult for VLPs derived from virus shells to achieve, according to Ufovax.
The spokesperson stated that the production process of the technology a “one-for-all bioprocess that works the same way for all vaccine products.” They added, “For any given vaccine candidate, a single plasmid that encodes all structural and functional components of the vaccine is transfected into the same widely-used good manufacturing practice (GMP) cell expression system and forms the desired nanoparticle vaccine product through self-assembly.” These nanoparticle vaccines do not have any infectious capacity.
This use of a protein nanoparticle platform to display its optimized antigens is unique as the standard use nanoparticle approaches use mRNA/DNa, vectors, or lipids.
“Since there is no lipid involved, the manufacturing is easy and robust, following a one-step expression and two-step purification process,” the spokesperson told us. The nanoparticle geometry is mathematically defined as well, which the organization believes simplifies the development of analytical assays required for quality control.
Currently, Ufovax has a patent portfolio that covers the development of vaccines against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), EBOLA, and coronaviruses. The organization intends to extend its research work into immuno-oncology and immunological disorders.