Mouse model trials will begin shortly onseveralCOVID-19 vaccine candidates developed by Griffith University scientists.

Lead researcher Professor Bernd Rehm (above) at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) has spearheaded the development of the platform technology which uses a synthetic version of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) which meansselectedviruscomponentsare assembled by safe microbial cell factories.Thisallows rapid vaccine designcombined with a high-yield bioprocess for mass production of the vaccine.

“OurCentrefor Cell Factories and Biopolymershas developed a technology which allows us to quickly adapt to emerging threats by precision engineering vaccines.

“The approach isbasedon hijacking the assembly pathwaysof microbialcellsto assemble our own targetsin this process.”

Professor Rehm, who is the author or co-author of nearly 60 patent applications, said his teamhasalready developedfour vaccine candidates containing components of the virus which causes COVID-19.

Professor Bernd Rehm holds one of the four COVID-19 vaccine candidates

“We essentially have these microscopic factories assembling these virus-like particles presenting the virus components,” Professor Rehm said.

GRIDDdeveloped a platform technologyto rapidly respond to newly emerging pathogensnot only enabling fast design of new vaccinesbut alsoemploying amanufacturingprocess that can be ported across to an industrialproduction facilityto enable supply of vaccine to millions of peoplewithin weeks.

They have now partnered with Brisbane-based biomanufacturing company Luina Bio to deliver the vaccine candidates.

“The beauty of this platform is unlike manyothers;we are able to scale up thenumberof doses manufactured in a short period of time.

“Should we eventuallyfind apromising vaccine candidate that confers protection, we will be able to mass produce it rapidly

“Our manufacturing partner conceivably could create up to 16 million vaccine dosesper week,” Professor Rehm said.

Like many other research teams worldwide attempting to develop an effective vaccine, time and funding remain their greatest enemy with researchersall tooaware of the cost of clinical trials which may take between six and twelve months before final approval.

“We are about to conduct animal trials with our four candidates and hopefully by May we will have the immune responses for the vaccinecandidatesmapped.The results will guide the choiceof the vaccine candidatefortestingin humans.

“We urgently need funding to move to the next step,” he said.