According to a March 25, 2020 press release, N4 Pharma will be undertaking a proof-of-concept research project using a COVID-19 DNA plasmid to demonstrate the ability of its delivery system, Nuvec, to collaborative partners developing DNA or RNA vaccines.
Nuvec is a silica nanoparticle with elongated silica spikes radiating from its core, which results in a high surface area that is coated with polyethylenimine to create a positively charged surface. Oligonucleotides, such as DNA and RNA, can be attached to the nanoparticle at high loading capacity. This loaded nanoparticle can then be taken up by cells involved in the transfection/transduction processes, which can result in the synthesis of foreign proteins and stimulation of the required immunological response.
The proof-of-concept work being undertaken by N4 Pharma is initially aimed at demonstrating the ability of loading COVID-19 plasmid and transfecting the cells with the plasmid in-vitro. Once in-vitro transfection is successfully achieved, the company will perform a proof-of-concept in-vivo study to show the improved transfection by measuring the production of the antigenic protein and antibodies generated against the encoded COVID-19 protein.
For this research project, the COVID-19 plasmid will be licensed from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Additionally, N4 Pharma will appoint a contract research organization (CRO) to perform the studies.
“Developing a convincing proof of concept data package for Nuvec is a key priority for the company so demonstrating whether Nuvec is capable of loading a plasmid DNA for the coronavirus provides an opportunity to show the versatility and potential for our Nuvec delivery system, and to license Nuvec to partners looking to develop vaccines for this virus,” said Nigel Theobald, CEO of N4 Pharma, in the press release. “We are not doing this work to develop a vaccine for coronavirus but rather to demonstrate to those working on these vaccines how Nuvec may enhance any vaccine and could be beneficial for subsequent vaccines they may be looking to develop for this coronavirus or other viruses that may well surface in the future.”
Source: N4 Pharma