CEPI to support circular RNA-based platform technology for vaccine development against emerging viral threats

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- CEPI to provide funding of up to US$2.15 million to advance Emervax Inc's circular RNA platform technology for the development of vaccines against emerging viruses

- Funding will contribute to the development of vaccine candidates against high-priority virus families with the potential for Disease X emergence

25 October 2023, OSLO Norway: The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Emervax Inc, today announced a partnering agreement to advance their circular RNA vaccine technology to develop vaccine candidates against emerging viruses with epidemic and pandemic potential. CEPI will provide up to $2.15 million to optimize the platform and generate data needed to support preclinical proof-of-concept.

This funding is part of CEPI's initiative to develop of RNA vaccine platform technologies and vaccine library development against emerging and select endemic infectious diseases. As part of this initiative, CEPI seeks to develop novel RNA platform technologies based on potentially high-impact innovations offering substantial advantages over existing mRNA technologies. It is supporting RNA platform technologies that can be used for the development of vaccine candidates against a specified list of known pathogens and the development of vaccine libraries against high-priority virus families with the potential for Disease X emergence.

mRNA vs circular RNA

RNA vaccines use the body's own machinery to make antigenic protein rather than injecting the pure antigen directly into the body (an antigen is a foreign substance that induces an immune response). However, existing mRNA vaccines are not stable and require multiple doses.

As their name suggests, circular RNA vaccine candidates have a closed-loop structure. This makes them potentially less susceptible to degradation and more stable than mRNA vaccine candidates. The physiological mechanisms that underpin the translation of circular RNA could also lead to increased durability of protein/antigen production in the body after administration, which could result in improved efficacy with lower doses.

Emervax is developing methods to improve the purification, scaling up manufacturing of circular RNA with polymeric nanoparticles, and designing & developing of a safe, effective, and potentially thermostable Yellow Fever vaccine.

Novel RNA technologies, such as those being developed by Emervax will make up an important part of the proposed Global Vaccine Library: a global repository of vaccine resources, capabilities and data that would maximise epidemic and pandemic preparedness and drive accelerated vaccine development when new viral threats arise. The tools and technologies advanced through this initiative are expected to make a vital contribution to the Global Vaccine Library. The Global Vaccine Library is central to CEPI's 100 Days Mission to develop a vaccine in 10o days after the emergence of a new disease X, giving the world a chance to stop the outbreak of a new infectious disease before it has had time to develop into a pandemic.

Enabling equitable access

CEPI is committed to enabling equitable access to the vaccines, products and innovations it supports. Through its partnership with CEPI, Emervax has demonstrated its shared commitment to ensuring equitable access to its technology in line with CEPI's Equitable Access Policy, including the potential application of its technology to future vaccine development of interest to CEPI, and a commitment to technology transfer in order to ensure affordable vaccines are available to populations when and where they are needed to end an outbreak or curtail an epidemic or pandemic.

Dr Melanie Saville, Executive Director of Vaccine R&D said: "The continuous improvement of vaccine technologies is vital to giving the world a better defence system against epidemic and pandemic viral threats. RNA-vaccine technology was critical to the global response to COVID-19 and will continue to be for future responses to emerging infectious threats. CEPI is supporting novel RNA vaccine technologies, such as circular RNA technology, to make sure we have a broad range of vaccine platforms that could enable the world to respond quickly and efficiently to the next Disease X."

Peter D. Weinstein, Ph.D., J.D., Chief Executive Officer of Emervax said: "Emervax is excited and honoured to work closely with CEPI and have access to its resources and expertise to advance a Yellow Fever vaccine using Emervax's proprietary mRNA vaccine platform and delivery technology. This is the beginning of what Emervax believes will be a long and fruitful collaboration between Emervax and CEPI as Emervax looks forward to working with CEPI to further both parties' mission to develop vaccines for emerging viral diseases that have the potential to cause an epidemic or pandemic."

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About CEPI

CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017. Its mission is to accelerate the development of vaccines and other biologic countermeasures against epidemic and pandemic threats so they can be accessible to all people in need.

CEPI has supported the development of over 30 vaccine candidates against its priority pathogens—Chikungunya virus, Ebola Virus Disease, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever virus and SARS-CoV-2—and is a leading funder of research into broadly protective coronavirus vaccines, which could protect against future variants of COVID-19 as well as other coronaviruses with epidemic and pandemic potential. The organization has also invested in the development of rapid response platforms to develop vaccines against Disease X (the threat of an unknown virus).

CEPI has overseen a number of scientific breakthroughs, including the first Phase 3 trial of a Chikungunya vaccine and the advancement of the first ever Nipah and Lassa vaccines into Phase 1 trials. The organization played a central role in the global response to COVID-19, supporting the development of one of the world's largest portfolios of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, seven of which have been approved for domestic or global use. It also co-led COVAX, the global initiative to deliver fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, which has delivered approximately 2 billion doses of vaccine to 146 countries around the world.

CEPI's five-year plan for 2022-2026 aims to dramatically reduce or even eliminate the future risk of pandemics and epidemics. Central to the plan is CEPI's goal to compress the time taken to develop safe, effective, globally accessible vaccines against new threats to just 100 days. Achieving this ‘100 Days Mission', which has been embraced by the G7 and G20, would give the world a fighting chance of containing a future outbreak before it can spread to become a global pandemic.

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About Emervax Inc

Emervax, Inc. was founded by preeminent scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston who are recognized experts in the fields of mRNA, infectious diseases, and vaccines. The company, which is based in Houston, Texas, is developing mRNA-based vaccines for viral infectious diseases, including those that have the highest potential to cause epidemics and pandemics. For more information please visit: www.emervax.com.




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Peter D. Weinstein, Ph.D., J.D.

E: [email protected]

T: +1 (805) 444-7865