On Monday, the Indian government and pharmaceutical company Panacea Biotec launched a collaboration with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to explore vaccine candidates that could provide wide protection against SARS-COV-2 variations and other Betacoronaviruses.
The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), which is part of the coalition, announced the latest award under its S200 million vaccine development programme, which began in March 2021 and aims to develop vaccines that provide broad protection against SARS-Cov-2 variants and other Betacoronaviruses.
CEPI would invest up to Rs 1.5 million in the development of multi-epitope nanoparticle-based vaccination candidates and the advancement of the manufacturing process.
THSTI and Panacea Biotec will use this research programme to design and select the lead antigen through proof-of-concept preclinical studies, as well as conduct initial clinical development through Phase 1/II studies, with the goal of establishing clinical proof of concept for novel vaccine candidates that provide broad protection against MERS, SARSCoV, SARS-COV-2, and variants.
THSTI and Panacea Biotec are collaborating on a cutting-edge technological platform that includes highly immunogenic antigens. Preclinical research shows that the vaccination platform stimulates both humoral and cellular immune responses. If the platform proves to be a success, In an official statement, CEPI notes that “it might potentially be utilised to enable speedy development of vaccinations against Disease X” – undiscovered viruses with pandemic potential that have yet to arise.
CEPI and its consortium members also said that they are committed to ensuring global fair access to the vaccines created through this collaboration. In accordance with CEPI’s Equitable Access Policy, THST1 and Panacea Biotec have committed to achieving equitable access to the project’s results under the terms of the financing agreement.
Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, stated that investing now in research to produce vaccines that are broadly protective against variations of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses is critical for global health security.
“I am proud to work with our Indian partners THSTI, a leading research institution, and Panacea Biotec, a vaccine manufacturer with a proven track record of delivering WHO prequalified vaccines, to advance our mission to develop globally accessible vaccines with the potential to prevent the next pandemic,” Hatchett said.
The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute’s Executive Director, Prof Pramod Kumar Garg, stated, “We are ecstatic to have received this prestigious CEPl grant. We anticipate a fruitful academic-industry collaboration with Panacea Biotec in the development of a vaccine for global public health. We are optimistic that this collaboration will help us build a more robust platform and pipeline for developing treatments to combat various infectious diseases.”
In light of the persistent threat posed by new SARS-COV-2 variations like Omicron, CEPI said it is speeding up its programme to develop widely protective coronavirus vaccines, which is a key component of its $3.5 billion pandemic contingency strategy. This is the sixth cooperation disclosed as part of the programme, and more are expected to be announced soon.