The Bill Gates Foundation has allocated a grant to Italian company ReiThera Srl to produce Chile vaccines against COVID-19, it was announced.
Funding for the program is focused on two key goals: developing next-generation vaccines capable of providing broader coverage against the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and supporting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's HIV Vaccine Initiative, generating candidates that can face this virus.
The Italian-developed drug has shown seroconversion rates higher than 99% in its clinical trials, as well as in formulas to combat HIV, according to press reports.
The US $ 1.4 million fund will help manufacturing start at a Center for the Production of Vaccines and Biotechnological Therapies to be built in Parque Carén as a result of an agreement with the Universioty of Chile.
The idea is to benefit low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, who are disproportionately affected by HIV and who currently have little or no access to effective Covid-19 vaccines.
We are delighted that ReiThera has received this grant from the prestigious Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will also allow us to access their network of highly experienced scientific collaborators, said Stefano Colloca, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of ReiThera.
The grant validates the potential of our novel GRAd vector technology to develop much-needed vaccines for both new coronavirus variants and HIV.
I look forward to working with our world-renowned partners as we strive to produce these new vaccines, which are expected to have a very positive impact on the lives of people in low- and middle-income countries, he added.
Work is well underway, as ReiThera developed GRAd-COV2, a candidate vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 based on this proprietary platform. It is a replication-defective adenoviral gorilla vector that encodes the spike protein of the coronavirus. The GRAd vector belongs to adenovirus species C, which are considered the most potent vaccine carriers and has a low seroprevalence in humans.
The safety and effectiveness of the formula have already been validated in phase 1 and 2 studies, which showed that the vaccine is well tolerated in adults, the elderly and in subjects with comorbidities, with seroconversion rates higher than 93% after a single dose and greater than 99% with two doses.
Currently the vaccine is in phase 3 studies and once it is approved for emergency use, it can be fully produced in Chile, which is estimated to occur a year from now, when the center in Parque Carén has been built and authorized to operate.
The Carén plant will have 7,000 m2 and a capacity to produce 100 million annual doses of up to five different biopharmaceutical products, such as adenoviral vaccines, biospecific antibodies, recombinant proteins, conjugates and high-demand gene therapies.