ROCKVILLE, MD, PROVIDENCE, RI, and GOLDEN, CO — April 09, 2020 — Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering the study of nucleic acid immunotherapy platforms, announced today that it is developing a nucleic acid vaccine candidate against COVID-19 leveraging its investigational UNITE platform for prevention of the novel coronavirus disease caused by SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus. Immunomic will work with leaders from EpiVax and PharmaJet, who have a wealth of immunology and vaccine delivery expertise, to rapidly develop its COVID-19 vaccine. Immunomic’s UNITE platform has been widely applied to create vaccine candidates for rabies, yellow fever, dengue fever, hepatitis C and SARS, a relative to the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is a global pandemic and fighting this will take a major global effort investigating many prevention therapies, treatment options and new modalities. We believe that our UNITE platform, which has shown promising results in infectious disease applications, is well-suited to develop novel vaccines for coronaviruses,” said Dr. William Hearl, CEO of Immunomic Therapeutics. “To rapidly advance our COVID-19 program, we are excited to collaborate with EpiVax, PharmaJet and our academic and strategic partners to explore ways to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of this deadly virus.”
EpiVax CEO, Dr. Annie De Groot, said “My company is thrilled to partner with ITI and PharmaJet on this important project. We believe that the UNITE platform, combined with epitopes that have been carefully triaged by EpiVax’s advanced computational tools, will generate a highly effective immune response against the pathogen that causes COVID-19, while reducing off-target effects.”
“We are pleased to be collaborating with Immunomic and EpiVax on this important program,” said Chris Cappello, President and CEO of PharmaJet, Inc. “The PharmaJet Tropis intradermal Needle-free Injection System has had great success in clinical studies as well as improved the immune response of multiple nucleic acid based (DNA and RNA) vaccines.”
This collaboration will combine leading technologies from all three companies: Immunomic’s UNITE platform, EpiVax’s in silico T cell epitope prediction tool, and PharmaJet’s well established Tropis® Needle-free Injection System that precisely targets delivery to the intradermal tissue layer. By bringing these companies’ and their technologies together, Immunomic aims to create a vaccine against COVID-19 that produces broad and potent immune responses, is feasible for rapid-responses, scalable, thermostable, safe and easy to administer by healthcare professionals.
In addition to working with EpiVax and PharmaJet, Immunomic plans to explore grant initiatives through the U.S. government, other companies and institutions, non-profit organizations, and investigators in the infectious disease field to advance its efforts against COVID-19.
About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold, in people. Coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and people and evolve into strains not previously identified in humans.
Three of the coronaviruses can have more serious outcomes in people, and those diseases are SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) which emerged in late 2002 and disappeared by 2004; MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which emerged in 2012 and remains in circulation in camels; and COVID-19, which emerged in December 2019 from China and for which a global effort is under way to contain its spread. COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.
As of April 8, 2020, the number of reported COVID-19 infections has surpassed 1.3 million cases with over 79,000 deaths. (Source: World Health Organization).
ITI’s investigational UNITE platform, or UNiversal Intracellular Targeted Expression, works by fusing pathogenic antigens with the Lysosomal Associated Membrane Protein, an endogenous protein in humans, for immune processing. In this way, ITI’s vaccines (DNA or RNA) have the potential to utilize the body’s natural biochemistry to develop a broad immune response including antibody production, cytokine release and critical immunological memory. This approach could put UNITE technology at the crossroads of immunotherapies in a number of illnesses, including cancer, allergy and infectious diseases. UNITE is currently being employed in Phase II clinical trials as a cancer immunotherapy. ITI is also collaborating with academic centers and biotechnology companies to study the use of UNITE in cancer types of high mortality, including cases where there are limited treatment options like glioblastoma and acute myeloid leukemia. ITI believes that these early clinical studies may provide a proof of concept for UNITE therapy in cancer, and if successful, set the stage for future studies, including combinations in these tumor types and others. Preclinical data is currently being developed to explore whether LAMP nucleic acid constructs may amplify and activate the immune response in highly immunogenic tumor types and be used to create immune responses to tumor types that otherwise do not provoke an immune response.
About Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc.
Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. (ITI) is a privately-held, clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of vaccines through its proprietary technology platform, UNiversal Intracellular Targeted Expression (UNITE), which is designed to utilize the body’s natural biochemistry to develop vaccines that generate broad immune responses. UNITE has a robust history of applications in various therapeutic areas, including infectious diseases, oncology, allergy and autoimmune diseases. ITI is primarily focused on applying the UNITE platform to oncology, where it could potentially have broad applications, including viral antigens, cancer antigens, neoantigens and antigen-derived antibodies as biologics. The Company has built a large pipeline from UNITE with six oncology programs and two allergy programs. ITI has entered into a significant allergy partnership with Astellas Pharma and has formed several academic collaborations with leading Immuno-oncology researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, and Duke University. ITI maintains its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. For more information, please visit www.immunomix.com.
EpiVax is a 21-year old privately held biotechnology company located in Providence, Rhode Island. Scientists at EpiVax, led by co-founders Annie De Groot, MD and Bill Martin, lead in the fields of immunogenicity risk assessment and computational vaccinology with expertise in T cell epitope prediction, immune modulation, and rapid vaccine design. EpiVax’s broad portfolio of projects includes vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious diseases, autoimmunity and cancer. EpiVax’s proprietary in silico immunogenicity screening toolkits for therapeutics and vaccines, ISPRI and iVAX, are employed in advancing the research of a global roster of companies. Visit www.epivax.com for more information.
PharmaJet’s mission is worldwide acceptance of PharmaJet needle-free injection systems as a standard of care in the vaccine delivery market. The PharmaJet Needle-free systems are safe, fast and easy-to-use. They eliminate needlestick injuries, needle reuse and cross contamination, and help reduce sharps waste disposal. The Tropis Needle-free Injection System has CE Mark and WHO PQS certification for intradermal injections. Visit www.pharmajet.com for more information.