In a highly successful collaboration with Sementis Limited and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, researchers at the University of South Australia have developed new technology set to deliver vaccines for many diseases and conditions, more cheaply and efficiently.

The new approach has taken the world’s first and most successful vaccine against small pox – genetically altered it to improve its safety and efficacy – and created a new vaccine platform able to deliver multiple antigens to guard against serious infectious diseases, including the mosquito-borne zika and chikungunya viruses.

The new, altered vaccine, named the Sementis Copenhagen Vector (SCV), has been tested in preclinical proof of concept studies and been shown to provide protection against Chikungunya infection and its virus-induced complications and Zika virus – importantly preventing transmission of the virus to the foetus in pregnancy and also persistent infection of the testis.

The results of the research have been published today in the prestigious journal, Nature Communications and leader of the UniSA research team, Professor John Hayball says the outcome is the result of a highly effective collaboration with Sementis and QIMR over several years.

“We have now proved this is a very effective delivery vehicle for a vaccine protecting against multiple infectious diseases,” Prof Hayball says.

“Working together, we will continue to explore the potential of this platform to deliver multiple disease vaccines.

“This work puts us well on the way to delivering health benefits to millions of people around the world by providing more effective and accessible vaccines.

“The potential applications of this Australian research for a range of diseases and other conditions is enormous.”

In the next phase of this work, Sementis has been invited to use the preclinical services of the renowned US Government National Institute of Health’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) laboratories to evaluate the SCV vaccines in a non-human primate vaccination study.

The study will be funded by NIAID and bring the vaccine one step closer.

The SCV vaccine was produced using Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells, as are all Sementis’ SCV-based vaccines, which are routinely used for large scale manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.

Sementis’ Chairman, Maurice O’Shannassy, says the production of a viral vectored vaccine in a CHO cell substrate is a game-changer in terms of the improved economics of vaccine production and providing vaccines on a global scale.

“Previous vaccinia-based vaccine vector systems have used chicken embryo fibroblasts for manufacture, which is associated with a number of manufacturing and safety issues,” he says.

“Being able to manufacture a vectored vaccine using CHO cells is a world first and offers

a number of advantages in the event of an outbreak, including rapid manufacture scale-up and cold chain (refrigeration) independent distribution capacity.”

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