OSE Immunotherapeutics, a biotech firm based in Nantes, is still in the race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. The originality of its vaccination technology, which has already been successfully tested on lung cancer, has caught the authorities’ attention.
Unlike the Messenger RNA vaccines that were developed most notably by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, OSE Immunotherapeutics’ approach is based on recognizing a set of the virus’s genetic markers called epitopes. That allows it to trigger a lasting response that is likely to preserve its efficiency when faced with the virus’s possible mutations. A tremendous advantage at a time when SARS-CoV-2 variants are multiplying around the globe. From the company’s point of view, their confirmed emergence constitutes an excellent reason to continue developing their experimental vaccine, called CoVepiT.
Financing from Bpifrance
To help speed up development, the firm has obtained €5.2 million in financing from Bpifrance. That will enable them to launch production of batches of vaccine to start a trial on humans in the first quarter of 2021. A first clinical study involving 120 adult participants who were recovering from Covid-19 allowed researchers to identify immunodominant T-cell epitopes selected for their strong potential for immunogenicity.
The development program is being conducted by a consortium led by OSE in partnership with Georges Pompidou European Hospital and Cochin-Pasteur Clinical Investigation Center.