Transforming Vaccine Technology

From Cancer to COVID-19, How One Company is Transforming Vaccine Technology.
Dec. 15, 2020
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– The race to create and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines continues. Big pharmaceutical companies are producing promisingvaccines and initial distribution is underway, however, this is not without numerous concerns or logistical hurdles. What you don’t hearmuch about is the smaller biotech companies working hard behind the scenes to develop alternative medicines that have big potential infighting the novel coronavirus and much more.
Concerns with current big pharma options
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing vaccine technology, with innovative approaches that are moving away from the use of liveviruses towards genetic-based approaches using RNA and DNA vaccines.
Rather than injecting a weakened form of a virus or bacteria into the body, like with the flu vaccine, DNA and RNA vaccines use part ofthe virus’ own genes to create antigens that stimulate an immune response. So, when someone who was treated with the vaccine getsexposed to the virus later on, their immune system will be able to fight it off more easily and reduce their risk for serious illness.
While it’s critical to produce a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, the leading candidates are RNA vaccines, which despite promisingresults, do have several drawbacks. RNA is very easily destroyed due to the body’s natural enzymes and chemical reactions which willbreak the RNA apart. As a result, these vaccines need to be manufactured, shipped and stored under very specific and extremely coldconditions in order to try to slow or prevent that breakdown of RNA.
These stability and manufacturing issues can lead to limited production capabilities, leaving governments and communities fighting foravailable supplies. Distribution and storage is complex, with one option requiring more than -70 degrees Celsius refrigeration. Supplychain issues may be an ongoing issue.
Small biotech with big ideas and the potential to save lives
While leading pharmaceutical companies are spearheading the fight against COVID-19, it’s important to consider the potentialtechnologies that smaller organizations are researching. One of those companies is Orbis Health Solutions, a South Carolina-basedbiotech using its deep cancer research experience and established vaccine technology to create a new approach to fighting COVID-19 –a DNA vaccine that addresses the shortcomings of the current frontrunners and with the ability to combat future viruses and biologicalthreats.
Based on the research and science of Thomas E. Wagner, Ph.D., the company’s founder and chief scientific officer, the potential COVID-19 vaccine uses a blueprint based on Orbis’ success in treating cancer through personalized vaccines. In addition to positive data fromits Phase IIb cancer clinical trial, proof-of-concept studies have demonstrated that Orbis’ vaccine technology platform has a wide range ofpossibility, from addressing agriculture and veterinary applications to fighting future pandemics and biological threats.
“We have developed a very successful vaccine against cancer, which is the most difficult challenge for the immune system,” saysWagner. “Now we’ve shifted our science and technology to fight the current COVID-19 pandemic and what we’re seeing is incrediblyhopeful.”
The science for the new vaccine is based on cancer vaccine technology that delivers foreign substances (antigens) to help the immunesystem to recognize an invader and trigger an immune response. In cancer therapy, this is created with antigens from a patients’ owntumor. For COVID-19, Orbis scientists have created a synthetic replica of portions of the DNA code of the virus focusing on the spikeproteins, which is the external part of the virus that penetrates a healthy cell. The vaccine contains this information in order to trigger aresponse and help teach the immune system how to fight the foreign invader and eliminate the virus.
Neutralizing antibodies in 100% of trial participants
The good news: Early data shows promise. Results of a clinical trial evaluating 20 healthy volunteers demonstrated that one inoculationwith the vaccine led to 100% of participants expressing neutralizing antibodies against the virus, meaning the vaccine is successful intriggering that critical immune response to COVID-19.
The Orbis COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t use any part of the virus itself, only the DNA encoding the spike protein. For this reason, it isbelieved to be a safe option with few side effects. What’s more, there’s no need for low-temperature storage and it’s highly scalable, so itmay be easier to quickly get enough vaccine worldwide, especially to those who need it most.
“We are very encouraged by these Phase I data, which represent a critical milestone for our vaccine technology platform and echo theearly success of our personalized cancer vaccine,” said George E. Peoples, M.D., chief medical officer of Orbis Health Solutions.
“Following further data analysis and discussion with regulatory authorities, we remain committed to initiating a larger Phase II trial thatwill move us one step closer to bringing this important treatment to patients as soon as possible so that we can help address this globalhealth emergency.”
These trials are particularly important because if successful, they will provide definitive proof of concept for the platform that could berapidly applied to future vaccines to help with new viruses and health concerns within a matter of weeks versus months to years. To learnmore, visit
“Just as COVID-19 didn’t exist a few years ago, other diseases and viruses will evolve,” Wagner says. “The proprietary delivery platformfor the Orbis vaccine provides a blueprint that can be updated quickly with different DNA information, which allows for rapid vaccinedevelopment and deployment to address the next viral or biological threat. This platform has the potential to save many lives both nowand in the future.”
Source Citation
(MLA 8th Edition)
“From Cancer to COVID-19, How One Company is Transforming Vaccine Technology.”
, 15 Dec. 2020, p. 1.
Gale AcademicOneFile
, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.
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