Baylor, Texas Children's and ImmunityBio collaborate for COVID-19 vaccine for Africa
Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and ImmunityBio, Inc., a clinical-stage immunotherapy company, today announced a licensing agreement for the development of a safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccine.
ImmunityBio was founded in 2014 by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who serves as the company’s Executive Chairman and Global Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, to create innovative immunotherapies that address serious unmet needs in infectious diseases.
Baylor has licensed a recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development to ImmunityBio. The company engaged in license negotiations with the BCM Ventures team, part of Baylor College of Medicine, after initial discussions about the COVID-19 protein-based technology and how it could inform a vaccine to address the current pandemic needs in South Africa. ImmunityBio will leverage its past biotechnology experience for the further development and commercialization of the vaccine candidate, which currently is produced using a proven yeast-based expression technology, in South Africa.
“We hope that our COVID-19 vaccine for global health might become an important step towards advancing vaccine development capacity in South Africa, and ultimately for all of Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.
“To address COVID-19, our vaccine center relies on conventional platforms suitable for rapid transfer manufacturers across many low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. “Therefore, our team of scientists is eager and ready to collaborate with ImmunityBio and enable our technology to be transferred to manufacturers in South Africa.”
Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development has completed the transfer of the technology to ImmunityBio. The company has successfully scaled-up the manufacturing process and will begin the technology transfer to Africa and undertake further development of the vaccine candidate combined with adjuvants in partnership with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), a Seattle-based nonprofit biotech research organization.
“There is a great need for second-generation vaccines, which are accessible, durable and offer broad protection against the emerging variants,” said Soon-Shiong. “ImmunityBio has executed on a heterologous (“mix-and-match”) strategy to develop a universal COVID-19 vaccine. To accomplish this, we have embarked upon large-scale good manufacturing practices and development of DNA (adenovirus), RNA (self-amplifying mRNA) and subunit protein (yeast) vaccine platforms. This comprehensive approach will leverage our expertise in these platforms for both infectious disease and cancer therapies.”