Nantkwest Inc (NASDAQ:NK) and ImmunityBio recently announced an important milestone in the development of their second generation COVID-19 vaccine called hAd5-COVID-19.
The two companies revealed that they administered the pipeline COVID19 vaccine to the first patient in phase 1 clinical trial of hAd5-COVID-19. The latter has been designed to target the outer spike (S) protein and the inner nucleocapsid (N) with the goal of activating antibodies and T-Cells to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The innovative vaccine leverages a second-generation adenovirus designed to deliver multiple memory cells that boost long-term immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Nantkwest and ImmunityBio will run the phase 1 clinical trial at the Hoag Hospital located in Newport Beach, California. The companies still enrolling adult patients up to 55 years old and the goal of the trial is to determine the reactogenicity, as well as safety of the pipeline vaccine. The clinical trial will also feature two vaccine doses.
“Our vaccine candidate, hdA5-COVID-19, targets both the nucleocapsid protein on the interior of the virus particle and the spike protein on the virus’ surface,” noted Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the CEO of Nantkwest and ImmunoBio.
The vaccine approach that Nantkwest and ImmunityBio are working on may deliver superior benefits
Dr. Soon-Shiong also noted that the dual-targeting presents a major advantage which may yield stimulation for both antibody-mediated and T-cell-mediated immunity against COVID19. The approach also differentiates it from COVID19 vaccine candidates from other companies especially those that only focus on the spike protein.
Dr. Soon believes that stimulating both the antibody and T-Cell immunity might prove to be a superior approach. He also noted that previous studies have so far proved that patients infected with the SARS-CoV virus have shown long-term T cell memory. The CEO also added that the approach that the two companies are using is based on years of cancer research. It therefore has a strong potential to deliver an effective and robust vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
The two companies are optimistic about the development of the hAd5-COVID-19 vaccine as well as its other pipeline therapies such as the intransal and the inhalational candidates.