We want to share exciting news: Lab results show that we have made our vaccine as designed.
In our previous post, we disclosed a design of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 based on VSV. In a subsequent post, we have also shared quite a bit of scientific background on why we believe it should work. With this post, we want to share an update on our work in the lab. Before we do that a bit of background.
The physical outside of the virus SARS-CoV-2 is characterized by the spike protein. It is the spike protein that enables the virus to infect cells. How does it do that? The spike protein matches with the so-called ACE2 receptor on cells. You could say that the ACE2 receptors are the lock and the spike protein is the key. Cells that have the ACE2 receptor can be infected by a virus with the spike protein. (FYI human lung cells have ACE2 receptors)
It is our belief that a successful vaccine should have this spike protein, but of course, should not be pathological. The immune system is triggered by the outside of the virus and it will be trained to recognize it and kill it. This idea is the basis of our vaccine. Putting the spike protein on the outside of VSV (a non-pathological virus) enables you to train the immune system without side effects.
So how did we test if our vaccine has the spike protein on the outside?
By putting our vaccine virus together with cells that have the ACE2 receptor we can see if they can infect them. And that is exactly what we have shown in the lab. See the video below.
Proof that our vaccine is binding the ACE2 receptor. Red is the ACE2 receptor on the cells. Green is the Spike-S protein on the vaccine. The yellow patches are co-localization of both cells with the ACE2 receptors and the vaccine.
This is super exciting, because if the theory holds (and this is the case for many other vaccines) that our immune system can be trained by a weak virus with the spike protein, then we are in good shape.
The next step for us is to conduct safety testing in animals (lab rats) followed by testing in guinea pigs to see if the vaccine provides immunity and protection. If all goes well, we hope to start the first phase of clinical trials.
Many challenges still remain, and if you want to help, feel free to reach out! (covid19 at hgi.bio)
We would welcome:
– partnerships with clinical researchers to host clinical trials.
– companies who can make small batches of virus at GMP grade, with the potential for scaling to larger quantities.
We will update you when we have more news.