New Zealand vaccine producer closer to goal by integrating mRNA Covid-19 technology with Australian research partner

16 September 2021

AUKLAND: COVID-19 Vaccination Corporation (CVC), New Zealand’s most experienced group of vaccine researchers have joined forces with Australia’s BASE Nucleic Acids Biomanufacturing Facility to produce an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

To date, CVC has been working on its own unique T-cell COVID-19 vaccine to complement existing vaccines as an enhancer. CVC’s vaccine is designed to work differently to currently marketed COVID-19 vaccines, with the main aim of protecting against COVID’s current and future variants, including the more infectious Delta variant, which has resulted in a strict nationwide level 4 lockdown in New Zealand.

“CVC’s vaccine can do this because it does not rely on generating antibodies, unlike all COVID-19 vaccines being administered at the moment,” says CVC Chief Executive Dr Robert Feldman.

Since launching its vaccine research efforts in 2020, two events have spurred CVC into expanding its programme to include the development of a new mRNA vaccine. Firstly, CVC now has successful pre-clinical results which are significant for progressing its research.

Secondly, the well-documented efficacy of mRNA-based vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have encouraged researchers, with the promise of this additional approach broadening the applicability of CVC’s technology to multiple delivery platforms.

“CVC’s vaccine is designed to protect not only against existing variants but also ones that may emerge in the future which is a main focus. Our vaccine can be delivered using a variety of methods,” says Dr Feldman.

“Up until now, we have used a polypeptide subunit approach but, excitingly, we are now in a position to use the newer mRNA method. We are particularly pleased to be able to collaborate with BASE to aid us in achieving our new goal,” he adds.

As mRNA vaccines have demonstrated their abilities to be quickly developed, CVC’s collaboration with BASE Nucleic Acids Biomanufacturing facility, part of the Protein Expression Facility at the University of Queensland, will explore how CVC’s T-cell vaccine technology can be rapidly adapted to this emerging technology.

BASE is collaborating with CVC to design T-cell COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidates. BASE will produce the mRNA vaccine’s active substance which will be supplied to CVC for formulation and evaluation in pre-clinical studies.

“We are pleased to help accelerate CVC’s research effort to adapt its proprietary T-cell vaccine to the mRNA platform technology and diversify the strategy employed to deliver the innovative vaccine,” says Dr Romain Tropée, Nucleic Acids Production Lead at BASE Nucleic Acids Biomanufacturing Facility.

BASE is supported by Therapeutic Innovation Australia and the University of Queensland, offering advanced biomanufacturing of high-quality and high-purity mRNA and DNA products to accelerate and enhance research translation.