Within the framework of the 15is Bref Eco Innovation Trophies 2020, our jury studied the most promising research projects supported by the SATT (Companies for the Acceleration of Technology Transfers) and the Competitiveness Poles of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. After ratings on the file, the winner of this Lab Meeting 2020 has been designated. This is the VUCCAF project, carried by the company Osivax.
Osivax will not be found in the peloton of the current race of candidate vaccines against Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2). However, the young Lyon company intends to have its say … in a few years, as the issues of the fight against viruses, in particular those of influenza and coronaviruses, will not be resolved in the short term.
Towards a universal vaccine against influenza and Covid
The Lyon-based company, a spin-off from the Imaxio laboratory created by its current manager Alexandre Levert, has been developing an influenza vaccine for a few years using very innovative technology. This must respond to a recurring and known problem: from year to year, influenza viruses mutate … hence the need for pharmaceutical companies to constantly find new vaccines. The objective of Osivax (20 employees including 12 researchers) is therefore to develop a universal vaccine against influenza, effective for years.
How to do ? While all influenza vaccines act on the antigens located on the surface of the virus, this part which changes from one generation to the next, the vaccine candidate of Osivax, called OVX 836, is based on cellular immunity against antigens internal to the virus which are very stable. Osivax’s technology, which eliminates infected cells before the infection spreads, provides an immune response against all influenza viruses, circulating and future ones.
In the validation phase, the Osivax influenza vaccine has just completed its second clinical trial on humans (230 people, phase 2a). The next step will be to test its effectiveness. The company aims to bring its OVX 836 to market around 2023-2024.
From influenza to Covid
Alternative and disruptive, Osivax’s approach to influenza will also be developed for coronaviruses as they have strong similarities with influenza (they also mutate). Delphine Guyon-Gelin, project manager, points out that “ As SARS-COV-2 is the third coronavirus epidemic in fifteen years, other approaches should be considered to ensure protection against current and emerging coronaviruses “. She also specifies that the vaccine candidate would be much easier to produce than the others.
Thanks to its support (Bpifrance, Inserm, APHP), Osivax will develop an OVX-COV vaccine until the clinical trial phase, directly against Covid-19 if it becomes endemic or in a few years against … a new strain coronavirus. It will then be time to approach a leading pharmaceutical group to launch the marketing of its vaccine. Which shouldn’t be very difficult: Osivax, which has raised more than 30 million euros since 2017, is already in direct contact with several “ big pharma Who are taking a keen interest in its universal influenza vaccine.
– Nature of the R & D project “ VUCCAF » : Development of a broad-spectrum vaccine against the current coronavirus pandemic, but also against a future coronavirus pandemic.
– Partners : Osivax ; APHP-Cochain-Pasteur Clinical Investigation Center ; Inserm-Cimi Paris.
– Amount of the project “ VUCCAF » : 17,9 M€ (dont 7,3 M € of subsidies and 7.8 M € of reimbursable advances, from Bpifrance)
– Project labeling date : June 9, 2020
– Completion date : avril 2023
– Date announced : 2023-2025
BRIEF ECO THANKS ITS PARTNERS: GROUPAMA RHÔNE-ALPES AUVERGNE, CAISSE D’EPARGNE RHÔNE ALPES, BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM, CNR, ABGI FRANCE, IDRAC BUSINESS SCHOOL, GROUPE APICIL, TUBA, INPI FRANCE AND AUVALIE INNOVATION. AND TO OUR SUPPORT: PLUS2SENS, WAIT FOR IT PRODUCTION AND BUTTERFLY BLUE.