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Innosuisse funding new RocketVax coronavirus vaccine

16.04.2021

Leading Swiss experts in immunology and virology have joined forces in the Basel-based startup RocketVax with the aim of developing a next-generation coronavirus vaccine. The first six months of development work was funded by Innosuisse to the tune of 1.2 million Swiss francs.

Founded in the summer of 2020, RocketVax is a startup that, according to information from the company itself, is developing second-generation coronavirus vaccines. Vector vaccines are designed to attack the virus in more comprehensive fashion and work more effectively against mutations than is the case for the vaccines developed so far. The first project phase lasting six months was funded by Innosuisse to the tune of 1.2 million Swiss francs.

RocketVax is a subsidiary of Swiss Rockets AG, a startup incubator and accelerator. The company is based on the collaboration between Swiss Rockets, Gigabases Switzerland AG, which is a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), and University Hospital Basel in addition to ETH Zurich itself, the University of Zurich (UZH), University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

“The support provided by Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, confirms the validity of our innovative research approach”, explains Dr. Vladimir Cmilijanovic, founder and CEO of Swiss Rockets and RocketVax, in a press release. “For the team, this support represents an important milestone on the road to successfully achieving the project’s aim of creating a next-generation SARS-CoV-2 vaccine”, he adds.

The RocketVax vaccine, known as RVX-13, uses coronavirus-based vectors. It is above all characterized by the fact that it contains all SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins, which differs from first-generation vaccines that only target the spike protein. However, these are unable to reproduce, meaning that they are not infectious. The aim here is to provoke a much broader antibody reaction and to reduce risks connected with viral escape mechanisms.

A digital DNA-designing platform ensures a straightforward design process and efficient production of new vaccine vectors, the press release explains. Moreover, the process can be quickly adapted to viral mutations. Allergic reactions are avoided, while the vaccine remains stable for longer at room temperature.

An animal model proof of concept is now imminent. Processes linked to the good manufacturing practice (GMP) quality assurance system in addition to scaleup activities are on the agenda for the next eight months. Thereafter, preclinical and clinical trials are set to follow.

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