iBio Inc. (NYSEAMERICAN: IBIO) has offered an update regarding IBIO-202, its flagship COVID-19 vaccine in the wake of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Omicron labeled a variant of concern
Omicron is a Variant of Concern according to the World Health Organization’s (“WHO”) Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution. The Omicron variety has at least 30 mutations in the spike protein, which was the focus of first-generation COVID-19 vaccinations.
iBio CEO and chairman Tom Isett said, “It is becoming increasingly likely that new COVID-19 vaccines will be needed to address the growing threats to global public health from SARS-CoV-2 variants such as Omicron. The emergence of Omicron has strengthened our belief that a next-generation vaccine development strategy such as iBio’s, which targets the genetically more conserved nucleocapsid, or N, protein rather than the mutable S protein, is needed to help overcome this pandemic. Based on the sequencing data posted on Nextstrain, Omicron’s mutations do not occur in the region selected for our IBIO-202 N protein subunit vaccine candidate, as was the case with previous variants.”
iBIO believes that next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will target the N protein produced first during infection and contains immunogenic epitopes. Also, the N proteins are more conserved relative to the S protein chances of novel mutations escaping protection are minimal. Studies also indicate that n proteins successfully induce antibody-dependent natural killer cell activation, which is vital in the adaptive immune response.
iBio using DAVI strategy in its COVID-19 vaccine
Chief scientific officer, Martin Brenner said, “We are developing our COVID vaccine candidate in line with an approach we call our ‘DAVi’ strategy, which stands for improved Durability, Access and Variant-inclusion. We believe IBIO-202 may afford greater durability given the novel antigen and adjuvant combination we have identified. We also seek to improve patient access by avoiding distribution challenges for frozen products that a number of first-generation vaccines require, and we may ultimately be able to improve access by exploring more convenient alternatives to intramuscular injections, such as intradermal delivery via a microarray patch.”