6 May 2020

License agreement speeds up work on COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

A spinout company from University of Copenhagen enters into a license agreement with the company Bavarian Nordic. The agreement will accelerate the work with developing a vaccine against the infectious disease COVID-19.

Coronavirus

Since the global spread of the infectious virus SARS-CoV-2 which has shut down entire communities, researchers have been working at full speed to develop a vaccine against the disease.

At the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), a research team led by Associate Professor Morten Agertoug Nielsen, Associate Professor Adam Sander and Professor Ali Salanti are well underway in the development of a vaccine.

This work is now being accelerated even further as the researchers' spin-out company have just signed a license agreement with the company Bavarian Nordic regarding use of the vaccine technology, which the researchers have developed at UCPH.

The license agreement was signed by the company AdaptVac which the researchers are part of. The agreement is an authorization (a sublicence) for Bavarian Nordic to use the patented vaccine technology in this context.

“It is a very important collaboration which will make it possible to quickly distribute the vaccine to developing countries and the entire world if everything goes as planned, and the vaccine works. At the same time, it is a strong example of a top-class Danish public-private collaboration that has a significant international angle,” says Trine Winterø, Vice Dean for Innovation and External Relations, the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, the University of Copenhagen.

The license agreement is a framework agreement, and the final details of the agreement will be determined within the next two months.

Faster from Phase One to Three

The research team from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology has developed the vaccine technology they are working with. The technology is called cVLP which stands for capsid virus-like particles. The University of Copenhagen owns the patent for the technology.

In addition to the license agreement with AdaptVac, it is the plan that within the next few months, Bavarian Nordic will also enter into a collaboration agreement with the Prevent-nCov consortium, of which AdaptVac is a part. The agreement will, among other things, accelerate the work on clinical trials which the researchers hope to be able to begin by the end of the year.

“It is a partner that can take the project to a new level, as Bavarian Nordic has in-depth experience with clinical trials, marketing and global drug approvals. The collaboration will allow us to proceed faster from phase one to phase three in the clinical trials and thus more quickly achieve our goal with the vaccine if it works. The expectation is that this cooperation will allow us to reduce our timeline for the clinical trials by six to 12 months,” says Morten Agertoug Nielsen.

In late April, AdaptVac signed an agreement with the company AGC Biologics regarding the future production of the vaccine. With the licensing agreement with Bavarian Nordic, the researchers and the consortium are now close to having gathered all players necessary to bring home the vaccine.

Prevent-nCov and AdaptVac

The Prevent-nCov consortium consists of the companies AdaptVac and ExpreS2ion as well as the Department of Immunology and Microbiology (UCPH), Leiden University Medical Center, Institute of Tropical Medicine (University of Tübingen) and the Laboratory of Virology (Wageningen University).

The consortium is also part of an international collaboration coordinated by the WHO which has committed to collaborating, sharing data and helping accelerate the development of a vaccine.

The researchers has founded the spinout company NextGen Vaccines which together with the private biotech company ExpreS2ion has created the joint venture company AdaptVac. All three units are collaborating on the development of new types of vaccines – including the vaccine against the novel type of coronavirus.

In March, the consortium received a grant from EU's research programme Horizon 2020 of DKK 20 million and a grant for the University of Copenhagen of DKK 12 million from the Carlsberg Foundation for their work to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

Contact

Associate Professor Morten Agertoug Nielsen, +45 28575489, mortenn@sund.ku.dk

Press Officer Cecilie Krabbe, +45 93565911, cecilie.krabbe@sund.ku.dk