AURORA, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A scant two months after creating the first comprehensive vaccine for H7N9 avian influenza, Greffex developed a vaccine to protect against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV.) The vaccine was readied in just four weeks after MERS-CoV had moved to the WHO's "alert phase" that also includes the human bird flu viruses H5N1 and H7N9. “We have big competitors who claim they can initiate vaccine production faster than we can,” says Dr. Uwe D. Staerz, Chief Scientific Officer at Greffex. “That they can go from algorithm to gene synthesis in matter of days invoking synthetic biology. But after they've constructed the necessary genes, they still need several months to deliver an actual vaccine. Once we get the genetic information for a new virus, we can give you a testable vaccine in a month. Our platform is therefore ideally suited to combat fast emerging infections."
First reported in September 2012 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, MERS was confirmed in 64 cases and caused 38 deaths, according to a recent WHO report. A member of the coronavirus family—which includes common cold viruses and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus—MERS cases have recently appeared in Europe among travelers from the Middle East. “International concern about these infections is high," the WHO said recently of MERS.
Greffex’ unrivalled production times result from its proprietary GREVAXTM platform—a highly scalable process that also safeguards vaccine purity. Developed with the support of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, GREVAXTM vaccines are designed as small synthetic nanoparticles of genes packaged in an adenoviral shells that can be modified to deliver their genetic payloads wherever most beneficial. They can be administered in different ways, including injection and nasal mist.
"Our vaccines target cells that kick start the immune system and do not need chemical adjuvants," says Staerz. “We have a clean product that does not expose you to contaminations from insect or plant proteins as seen in other systems."
Taking advantage of the immunogenicity of the benign adenovirus, the GREVAXTM platform produces vaccines more efficiently than conventional approaches. Its economy gives Greffex the agility to ramp up production in response to a sudden pandemic or threat. “It’s true that DNA vaccines can be produced in the same time frame. But their delivery methods are limited,” says John R. Price, President and Chief Executive Officer of Greffex. “We've worked very hard to be able to make a vaccine in a month. The real problem we all face is: can you make 100 million doses in a short span of time, in a small space, and at a reasonable price? We can. We are in the position to swiftly scale up production to these levels."
Greffex has created a vibrant pipeline of vaccines and is preparing its H5N1 avian influenza vaccine for clinical trials. Its library already contains vaccines against different influenza strains, Anthrax, Dengue, Ebola and now MERS. It is constantly being expanded as the construction of new candidates was simplified to a few engineering steps and the production of vaccines was adapted to standardized manufacturing protocols. The GREVAXTM platform combines a flexible ‘plug-and-play’TM design accommodating different antigens, such as the MERS-CoV major surface S protein gene, with shortened development times of less than one month.