N4 Pharma will test a Covid-19 DNA plasmid if Nuvec, a novel delivery system for cancer treatments and vaccines, can be used as a delivery system by potential collaboration partners developing Covid-19 DNA or RNA vaccines.
N4 Pharma pointed out that it is not itself attempting to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, it is purely seeking to show whether Nuvec could work as a delivery system for a vaccine when it is developed.
N4 Pharma’s Nuvec is a silica nanoparticle with elongated silica spikes radiating from the core. N4 Pharma explained that this topography results in a high surface area which subsequently is coated with Polyethylenimine (PEI), resulting in a positively charged surface. N4 said it has been previously demonstrated that oligonucleotides including plasmid DNA and mRNA can be attached to the nanoparticle at high loading capacity. In both in vitro and in vivo test models, the loaded nanoparticle is taken up by cells involved in transfection/transduction processes resulting in the synthesis of foreign proteins and stimulation of the required immunological response.
N4 will test to show if Nuvec is capable of loading the Covid-19 plasmid and transfecting cells with the plasmid in vitro. Assuming successful in vitro transfection, the N4 Pharma plans to undertake a proof of concept in vivo study to show the improved transfection when using Nuvec, compared to not using the delivery system, by measuring the production of the antigenic protein and antibodies generated against the encoded Covid-19 protein.
The Covid-19 DNA plasmid will be licensed from the National Institute for Health (NIH) in the USA and is the same plasmid provided to leading biotech companies and researchers already working on Covid-19 vaccines, N4 Pharma said. The company will appoint an experienced contract research organisation (CRO) that it has worked with previously to undertake the program of studies outlined above.