Crowdfunding COVID-19 vaccine development

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/AndreyPopov
© GettyImages/AndreyPopov

Related tags Peptide Vaccine COVID-19

Axon Neuroscience is launching the world's first crowdfunding exercise for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, following what it says are strong pre-clinical results for its candidate.

The company has over 20 years of experience in developing an immunogenic peptide vaccine against dementia; in April 2020, it announced its plan to develop a novel peptide vaccine against COVID-19.  

The plan is to enter clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate - ACvac1 - in Q4 2020.

Axon is allowing individuals and small investors to get behind the vaccine.  Starting in October 2020, those interested will be able to invest directly through the project’s website​.

The Slovakian biotech said its goal is to solve the global pandemic independently from political and corporate pressure, with a safe solution that is developed responsibly.

Moreover, as it is also working on its main product for dementia, AADvac1, and given that it is a private biotech, Axon said it cannot fully fund both projects.

When asked about the likely investors in this COVID-19 vaccine, a spokesperson for Axon told BioPharma-Reporter: “We will open the investment to anyone in Europe and, selectively, in ROW under European Prospectus regulation, to those who comply with the standard registration/KYC/AML identification.”

Should ACvac1 get approval, the investors would be entitled to 20% of future profits from the vaccine.

Pre-clinical findings 

Axon said it has achieved strong pre-clinical results for its COVID-19 targeted vaccine.

ACvac1, it explained, contains only key elements of the virus Spike (S) protein capable of inducing desirable immune responses to prevent the virus from interacting with its target host cells.

In the pre-clinical study, the vaccine candidate produced extensive antibodies in vaccinated mice, effectively blocking the live SARS-CoV-2 virus from replicating, it reported.   

"We identified the weakest points of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and instructed the immune system to target these small areas of up to 20 amino acids in order to completely eliminate the viral infection. The data from the virus neutralization test showed that our strategy was successful. ACvac1 very precisely instructs the immune system to neutralize the virus,"​ said Norbert Zilka, chief science officer, Axon.

In designing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Axon said it has benefited from its experience in its work around neurodegenerative disease for elderly patients, a group at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

"Axon's vaccine approach against COVID-19 is highly differentiated from the other vaccine developers and has enormous potential despite coming later in the race. We unraveled the mechanism of how the virus protects itself from an immune response and where its vulnerable parts are located so that we can efficiently target them,” ​added Zilka.

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