Results from ongoing study suggest the major role of Celartics' Cov-DCVax in preventing viral infection of COVID-19 and in controlling progression of the virus-associated diseasesBeijing, May 22, 2020, Celartics Biopharma announced today the filing of a patent application covering a novel dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccine, Cov-DCVax, to fight viral infection of COVID-19. The results, led by Celartics research team, demonstrate that using the proprietary engineered DC technology by targeting nucleoprotein (NP) of COVID-19, NP-specific cytotoxic CD8+ T cells from naive T lymphocytes can be efficiently induced and massively expanded in culture. The antigen-loaded DCs and viral antigen-specific T cells have great potentials in preventing viral infection and in controlling progression of virus-associated diseases, respectively.
Dendritic cells are the most potent professional antigen-presenting cells that can engulf and process viral or tumor antigens. Once DCs are loaded with viral antigen and become activated, they acquire the ability to educate naïve T lymphocytes, promoting these T cells to differentiate into antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells that can fight virus. Primary blood DCs constitute 1% of immune cells in peripheral blood and are not able to grow in culture. Manufacturing clinical grade DC with the conventional DC method, therefore, needs quite large amount of blood and is very costly, limiting DC’s application as a preventive vaccine against viral infection. To overcome various technical hurdles associated with the conventional DC method, Celartics Biopharma has developed an innovative engineered DC technology, which enables primary blood DCs from a few milliliters of peripheral blood to grow in culture, generating large amounts of highly activated DCs suitable for multiple clinical applications. These engineered DCs exhibit vastly improved antigen-loading capability and efficient lymphoid tissue homing ability due to high expression of the chemokine receptor, CCR7. In addition, the manufacturing cost for generating engineered DCs is significantly reduced. “The engineered DCs are safe to use, as demonstrated in animal studies and pilot clinical trial in cancer immunotherapy”, said Yang Yu, CEO of Celartics Biopharma
Current vaccine strategies for COVID-19 include mRNA vaccine, DNA vaccine, adenovirus vector-based vaccine and inactivated virus vaccine, with the goal of generating neutralizing antibody that reacts to Spike, the viral surface protein of COVID-19. The neutralizing antibody blocks entry of virus to host cells through ACE2 receptor. Accumulating evidences have suggested that developing permanent immunity remains challenging, exclusively by targeting heavily glycosylated Spike protein or rapidly mutating viral surface proteins such as influenza HA. Differing from these vaccine strategies, the engineered DCs are designed to empower T cells to fight virus. DC-educated T cells recognize viral antigenic peptides complexed with HLA molecules on the surface of virus-harboring host cells and launch subsequent attack to eliminate virus. Furthermore, a given viral protein in host cells is processed into multiple antigenic peptides that are bound to distinct HLA molecules, this provides many targets for antigen-specific T cells to attack. Unlike Spike protein, the NP protein of COVID-19 is less likely to mutate and also share 91% amino acid sequence homology with the counterpart of SARS virus. “The Cov-DCVax is designed to develop long-lasting protective immunity in human to fight both COVID-19 and SARS viruses”, said Yang Yu.
In last February, Celartics Biopharma announced the development of Human Dendritic Cell and Data Repository (HDCR), in order to meet urgent demands in fighting deadly virus outbreak and cancer. HDCR prepares human blood dendritic cells from healthy individuals in GMP facility, coupled with data analysis covering immunophenotyping and HLA typing. These engineered DCs are stored in liquid nitrogen and are readily available when needed, in supporting cell-based vaccination or immunotherapy. HDCR also serves as the platform technology provider to research institutions and pharmaceutical industries. The ultimate goal of HDCR is to bring in a feasibility of dendritic cells as a new form of preventive vaccines for rapidly evolving viruses. The Cov-DCVax vaccine is intended for generating long-lasting protective immunity in high risk individuals, while the viral antigen-specific T cells provide immediate therapeutic protection in controlling the progression of COVID-19-associated disease. "The current research progress and patent application enhance the spectrum of possible collaborators and partners. We are delighted that our scientific team has made solid progress in developing such unique Cov-DCVax vaccine, which may potentially yield benefits useful to high risk population, considering current global impact and severity of COVID-19 pandemic", said Yang Yu, CEO of Celartics Biopharma.
About Celartics Biopharma, Inc. Celartics Biopharma is a biotechnology company, located at Dongsheng International Science Park, Beijing. The company focuses on developing innovative cell-based immunotherapies for human cancer and viral diseases. The Company seeks rapidly advancing these technologies through pre-clinical and Phase I and II clinical trials, centering on DC therapeutic vaccine and adoptive T cell transfer therapies for treating solid cancer and leukemia. The company also seeks potential collaborators and partners for joint development through the proprietary technology platforms.
Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Celartics Biopharma, Inc.
Company ：Celartics Biopharma Inc., Ltd.
Contact: Huan Zhang,
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