Washington: In what is claimed to be a breakthrough in medicine, the US biotech company Vaxxinity has expressed hope that their novel coronavirus vaccine made using synthetic proteins can also help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Currently, the company's vaccine against Covid-19, known as UB-612, is in phase 2 trials. It uses the traditional recombinant protein coronavirus vaccine technology, but instead of growing proteins in large vats, Vaxxinity's proteins are made using chemicals.
The company says that the pandemic has helped it accelerate the development of the new class of drugs.
According to Financial Times' report on Sunday, these so-called synthetic peptides mimic the spike protein, as other vaccines do, but also other proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that causes Covid-19.
The company uses a technique that it is also applying to its "immunotherapeutic" vaccines that train the body to produce its own antibodies against internal targets of disease.
While speaking to Financial Times, Mei Mei Hu, chief executive of Vaxxinity remarked that some of the most successful drugs today are biologics drugs, but they are very expensive and often rather inconvenient to use.
She further added that the company's vision is to disrupt that class of drugs by the next-tier, next-generation vaccine.
"Commercialising Covid means not only proving one aspect, one modality of our platform for infectious diseases but also being able to fuel the development of other programmes off that technology platform," IANS quoted HU as saying.
Vaxxinity's Alzheimer's drug encourages the body to clear misfolded proteins called amyloid plaques from the brain because genetic analysis has linked them to symptoms of the disease.
As the phase 2 trial was not large enough to draw statistically valid conclusions, the company is moving on to a larger study, Hu said.
Nearly 35 million people suffer from cognitive illness worldwide, and almost all existing drugs to combat the condition only treat its symptoms.
An injectable monoclonal antibody treatment developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson was stopped in 2012 after a small proportion of cases developed inflammation in the brain in clinical trials. Vaxxinity said it has addressed this problem and the product is now safe and consistent, the report said.
UB-612 is comparatively cheap and the vaccine does not need to be kept in the deep freeze. Vaxxinity expects to sell the shot primarily to lower-income countries. However, it says that it has also had interest from developed markets, including the EU.
While the shot is not yet approved, Vaxxinity already has confirmed demand for 140 million doses, the report said.