The NRC is supporting the efforts of VBI Vaccines to develop safe, effective and broadly reactive vaccines that can protect against known and emerging coronaviruses. With NRC funding and research expertise, VBI's coronavirus program is working to ensure there won't be a need to "chase variants" when making future COVID-19 vaccines.
Through its long-standing collaboration with VBI, the NRC has provided scientific and technical expertise for a number of preclinical models to test vaccines against infectious diseases. The NRC also provided VBI licensed access to its proprietary cell line HEK-293SF-3F6 as well as bioprocessing expertise to help with the development of the vaccine platform. VBI's innovative technology uses enveloped virus-like particles (eVLP): protein structures that closely resemble viruses but lack infectious material and can express a variety of spike proteins on the same particle.
The NRC and VBI are working closely together to boost the manufacturing yields of VBI's candidate vaccines. This will help support clinical development of the vaccines and, if a candidate is successful, meet potential commercial demands. NRC researchers are also evaluating candidate vaccines in preclinical models to help determine the optimum vaccine formulation. One candidate has now completed Phase 1 clinical trials and the NRC has evaluated blood samples from vaccinated individuals participating in that trial to inform further clinical testing.
VBI's technology has the potential to produce vaccines that will provide broad protection against known and emerging variants of COVID-19—without having to make major changes to the manufacturing process. That flexibility can then be leveraged in the future to develop vaccines against other infectious disease threats that might emerge.
"We are grateful for the significant support we have received from the Government of Canada. Through our mutual investment in terms of both human and financial capital, we remain dedicated and highly focused on our shared public health commitment to provide an effective response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."