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Flanders biotech start-ups are working on COVID-19 vaccines

Multiple biotech companies in Flanders are joining the search for a COVID-19 vaccine. Two new start-ups recently announced their vaccine development endeavors: myNEO and Ziphius Therapeutics. This news follows earlier announcements by Janssen Pharmaceutica and Pfizer.

Coronavirus

myNEO: repurposing cancer treatment technology

By making smart use of existing cancer treatment technology, myNEO's COVID-19 vaccine aims to achieve long-term protection in more than 80% of the global population. To do this, the start-up, supported by Start it @KBC, is developing a carefully chosen cocktail of peptides – pieces of protein that are essential for the virus – in order to initiate a highly targeted immune response.

This approach offers several advantages over the use of a complete virus. By specifically choosing fragments that are essential to the virus, the vaccine has a better chance of working against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19), MERS, as well as any potential future forms of the same virus family with the same components.

Now that the biotech start-up has identified these promising COVID-19 peptides, myNEO is starting preclinical trials in collaboration with a European biotech company with a cancer vaccine technology. The goal is to test the vaccine on humans in early 2021.

Ziphius Therapeutics: gearing up for clinical trials

Ziphius Therapeutics also aims to market its vaccine by fall of 2021, claiming that it can present promising results after several initial tests. The company is currently preparing for clinical trials and intends to start testing on humans in October.

"We are in close contact with the regulatory authorities to inform them of our progress,” says CEO Chris Cardon. “We are aware of the imminent need for treatment and want to respond quickly to a potential next wave of the coronavirus." Cooperation with other Flanders-based companies for the further development of the vaccine is also an option, he assures.

More info

Ziphius TherapeuticsmyNEO
Reported by
HLN newspaper and www.engineeringnet.be
3 August 2020

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