A team of researchers led by IIT Bombay alumnus Dr Prabuddha Kundu, at Gurgaon based Premas Biotech, is developing a triple antigen vaccine. They have successfully identified three major antigens as a recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Unlike single-protein vaccines currently under trials across the world, Premas Biotech has adopted a three-pronged approach to develop multi subunit vaccine, using recombinantly expressed antigens Spike (S), Envelope (E), and Membrane (M) proteins in multiple formats, which it hopes will provide a good chance of immunity against COVID-19. Premas has successfully completed expression of the three coronavirus antigens and is now moving forward with developing the scale up designs and is applying for animal trials. The multi-antigenic approach is being designed to try to overcome presently known and possible future mutations of novel coronavirus, which, if successful, would result in the development of an effective vaccine.
Based on an exclusive D-Crypt technology that is developed and improved upon by Premas Biotech over the past decade, a modified version of baker’s yeast or Saccharomyces cerevisiae is being used to recombinantly produce the antigens, thus making the potential vaccine relatively easy to manufacture and produce at a mass scale to cater to large populations, not only in India but all over the world. Baker’s yeast grows fast, is more cost-effective as compared to other modern technologies and has been viewed as a safe compound by regulatory agencies like the US-FDA and DCGI in other drugs. Specifically, a yeast host platform has been successfully used to produce many drugs, including drugs like insulin and many blood products and hormones.
“Using D-Cryp technology, we believe that we can produce multi million doses a week if the vaccine is approved, as drug manufacturers are used to this platform and there are many existing facilities and processes that can be used for such production. With this technology and collective knowledge of over three decades of usage of yeast as a host, we at Premas were able to express the three antigens in multiple formats in less than two months. We are working closely with our partners and the authorities to plan and role out our next steps.” said Dr Kundu
Premas Biotech Co-Founder Dr Nupur Mehrotra said that since yeast is used for expression and development of the vaccine, we believe that our technology will be more affordable than other vaccine candidates being developed and easier to manufacture. “We believe that this could be the first triple antigen composition that will come from an Indian company, ready for the world,” she said.
Under the stewardship of Dr Prabuddha Kundu, Premas Biotech has partnered with global companies on path breaking technologies, such as their partnership with Oramed, as only manufacturer of the proteins required for Oral Insulin, which has successfully cleared Phase IIb trials in US. In the past 14 years, Premas Biotech has worked on more than 650 proteins for the top 20 Pharma and Biotech organizations across the world. Having developed over 30 difficult-to-express proteins, which are similar in properties to S, E and M proteins of the COVID-19, the biotech firm is confident of their technology going forward. These proteins have earlier been instrumental in enabling four candidates in clinical trials globally for their partners.