The Startups Fast Tracking a Vaccine for COVID-19

Published on Jan. 11, 2021

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread into 2020, health startups and researchers around the world are pivoting their technologies to help fight the spread of this deadly virus. As of March 17, 2020, there are 4,226 total cases reported in the U.S. and that number is rapidly rising. However, scientists are still working tirelessly on a viable vaccine to curb the spread. During the SARS outbreak from 2002 - 2003, it took about 20 months to develop a vaccine ready for humans. 

This time, drugmakers are hoping to enlist the help of modern technologies that didn’t exist before to quickly create a new vaccine to counter coronavirus. Taking immediate action to contain this epidemic and create a viable vaccine is crucial to stop the virus from spreading. 

Vaccines are an effective tool to quickly gain immunity against infectious diseases. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. Vaccination is a key contributor to the population’s health but underlies a very expensive and time-consuming development process. However, innovative technologies like machine learning and computer simulations are gradually changing how scientists develop vaccines.  



Codagenix Inc. utilizes a breakthrough platform technology called SAVE to construct live-attenuated viral vaccines against multiple targets. All live-attenuated vaccines that are currently used in clinics were created using a trial-and-error based testing developed in the 1880s, pre-dating the discovery of the DNA double helix. The SAVE platform relies on synthetic biology and the “re-designing” of a target virus’s entire genome to yield a vaccine strain. This customization process uses software-based algorithms to ‘re-code’ the genome of a target virus. 

Codagenix is currently developing a live-attenuated vaccine that will carry all proteins from a natural virus. They will be targeting the spike protein, along with all other structural and non-structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2. A coronavirus vaccine is now a part of the pipeline. Codagenix is working on bringing the vaccine into Phase I trials within the next 4 months. After that, through a partnership with the Serum Institute, they will manufacture and distribute the vaccine under a US EUA.

Meissa Vaccines

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Meissa Vaccines is a pharmaceutical development startup focused on the in-licensing and advancement of vaccines for the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV, the largest unmet respiratory medical need in pediatrics) and rhinovirus (the leading cause of infectious disease worldwide).

Meissa Vaccines is applying synthetic biology and genetic engineering to respiratory viruses for the rational design of vaccine strains that solve challenging obstacles in modern vaccinology such as suboptimal immune responses, vaccine stability, and manufacturing.

Initially developed at Emory University, proprietary technologies of reverse genetics, codon deoptimization, and stabilization of key antigenic conformations allow for the rapid generation of best-in-class vaccine formulations. 

Emergex Vaccines

The Startups Fastracking a Vaccine for COVID-19 - emergex

Emergex Vaccines offer affordable, practical and effective vaccines on-demand, which are suited to low resource environments, disproportionately affected by pandemics. These vaccines will be used to create a clinical grade international vaccine repository that will act as a first line of defence in the case of existing and newly emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

The Company’s set-point vaccines deliver experimentally-derived pathogen peptide data via quantum-sized nanoclusters to prime the immune system to recognise subsequent infections, mimicking natural infection and preventing severe manifestation of the disease. Emergex’s T-cell vaccines elicit different responses than traditional antibody-producing vaccines, eliminating allergic, autoimmune or antibody-mediated side effects.

Emergex’s underlying platform technology enables rapid development of vaccines to entire families of pathogens, compared to traditional approaches that can take years to develop and scale vaccines for single pathogens. As purely synthetic vaccines with no biological components, Emergex’s vaccines are much safer as they carry no infection risk from live attenuated pathogens; are much cheaper to produce since they do not require culturing; and can be conveniently transported and administered even in remote parts of the world.

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