A team of researchers led by IIT Bombay alumnus Dr. Prabuddha Kundu at Gurgaon based Premas Biotech have successfully identified three major antigens as a recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine candidate to developing a triple antigen vaccine.
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-Crypt 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 roll 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 Inc., 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.
Premas Biotech was founded in 2005 with the vision of transforming drug development. Premas is leveraging its D-Crypt technology to develop a multicomponent recombinant protein vaccine against COVID-19 along with their partner.
In the custom protein therapeutics segment, Premas ranks among top 15 companies globally and holds a leadership position in India (by delivery volumes).
The company is present in North America, Europe, Israel and India with offices in the USA, India and Israel. It is the first and only Indian company to develop two separate technologies for rCRM197, the next-gen vaccine carrier.
Since April 2018, Premas has filed four patents, jointly or individually. Premas is partnering with Oramed Pharmaceuticals for late stage clinical trials in US for oral insulin.