SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Greffex develops vaccine for MERS-CoV

Greffex announced on Wednesday that it has developed a vaccine for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.

MERS-CoV, which is believed to have originated in the middle east, is a new type of coronavirus that was first reported in Jeddah Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Since that time there have been 64 cases and 38 deaths.

MERS-CoV is a kind of SARS and is closely related to the more famous SARS that was believed to have originated in parts of China. MERS-CoV is believed to have originated with an unknown animal species and then transferred to humans.

SARS is a disease that works by dodging the innate immune responses and disrupting interferon production in the cells. This results in severe acute pneumonia and can eventually lead to renal failure and death.

Greffex's vaccine was ready four weeks after MERS-CoV was moved to the WHO's alert phase.

"We have big competitors who claim they can initiate vaccine production faster than we can" Dr. Uwe D. Staerz, chief scientific officer at Greffex, said. "That they can go from algorithm to gene synthesis in matter of days invoking synthetic biology. But after they've constructed the necessary genes they still need several months to deliver an actual vaccine. Once we get the genetic information for a new virus we can give you a testable vaccine in a month. Our platform is therefore ideally suited to combat fast emerging infections."

The GREVAXTM vaccine packs small synthetic nanoparticles of genes into an adenoviral shells and can be modified to give its genetic payloads to wherever it will provide the greatest benefit.

"Our vaccines target cells that kick start the immune system and do not need chemical adjuvants," Staerz said. "We have a clean product that does not expose you to contaminations from insect or plant proteins as seen in other systems."