COVID-19 Variant Supplement – Development of a nanoparticle-based vaccine candidate to the SARS-CoV-2

Leclerc, Denis | $50,000

Quebec CHU de Québec 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

The recent outbreak of the coronavirus in the province of Wuhan in China is an international concern since there is a risk for spreading the infection outside the Chinese territory. The spreading of the virus is facilitated by its human to human transmission by aerosols. Several approaches must be taken to limit the spread of the virus, including quarantine, the decontamination of infected areas, early detection in patients, etc. It is also widely recognized that vaccination is from far the most efficient approach to control the spreading of the infection and protect the population. We propose first the development of a vaccine component-1 to the SARS-CoV-2 based on the use of an immune enhancer nanoparticle coupled to peptides derived from the virus nucleocapsid. This vaccine will trigger a protective immune response against the virus. The use of peptide antigens allows moving very fast in the development of the vaccine candidate. Besides the speed, this approach has the merit to induce a broad CTL immune response that should also trigger protection to any strains of the virus that are related to the Wuhan virus, like the SARS virus of 2002. Second, we will design and prepare a second vaccine component that will elicit the production of neutralizing antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2. Finally, both components will be combined in one vaccine formulation that will provide robust protection to the SARS-CoV-2 and also to related viruses, like the SRAS virus of 2002. The nanoparticles used to attach the vaccine antigens are very stable. The coupling to the nanoparticle will stabilize the antigens and generate a very stable vaccine formulation that can be stockpiled for a long period (years) without loss of integrity. This is an advantage because to insure preparedness to other epidemics with related viruses.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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