A biologics contract manufacturing organization and biotechnology company, iBio, announced in a March 26, 2020 press release that immunization studies for its SARS-CoV-2 Virus-Like Particle (VLP) program, called IBIO-200, are proceeding at Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) laboratories. The work is being performed as part of a master joint development agreement established between iBio and TAMUS in 2016.
“This next stage of work on IBIO-200 is critically important as we seek to quickly enter the clinic with one of our VLP candidates,” said Tom Isett, co-chairman and CEO of iBio, in the press release. “As we optimize our choice of adjuvants with both VLP types we have developed, we are fortunate to have a strong relationship with TAMUS that allows us to rapidly bring their deep insight into the pathogenesis of coronaviruses and experience with vaccine development to the task.”
“We see strong potential for the IBIO-200 program given that we have both the glycosylated and non-glycosylated iBio VLPs as options for development,” said James Samuel, head of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology at Texas A&M University, in the press release. “We look forward to completing the preclinical immunization studies for iBio to determine the optimal combination of VLP and adjuvant to advance to human clinical trials.”
iBio reported that its FastPharming System, a plant-based expression platform, allowed it to quickly create the proprietary VLP candidates and produce VLPs suitable for further development. In a March 18, 2020 press release, the company reported that it had filed four provisional patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office in support of the VLP platform, as well as other technologies for treating or preventing infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The FastPharming facility was originally built in 2010 with funding from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of the initiative to establish facilities capable of rapid delivery of medical countermeasures in response to a disease pandemic. The factory is equipped with automated hydroponics and vertical farming systems for the production of a wide array of biological medicines.
“We are pleased with both the speed of our development activities and the quality of the VLPs our technology is yielding in practice,” said Isset in the press release. “The tightly controlled particle size allows for uniform antigen display, which should translate to a consistent dose response and a highly efficient production process, facilitating a ramp-up to tens of millions of doses if we are successful in the clinic.”