Pharma Focus Asia

ZYUS Collaborates with USask’s VIDO-InterVac to Develop a Plant-Based Vaccine for COVID-19

Friday, May 08, 2020

ZYUS Life Sciences Inc., a company dedicated to improving quality of life through research and leadership in bio-pharmaceuticals and the development of innovative cannabinoid-based formulations and product candidates, announced today that it is collaborating with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan, a world leader in developing vaccines and technologies against infectious diseases, to test plant produced antigens in a vaccine for COVID-19.

ZYUS will leverage its bio-pharmaceutical plant technology platform and expertise to develop and express a protein that VIDO-InterVac has identified as a potential antigen for a COVID-19 vaccine. This protein will be isolated by ZYUS in its plant expression system and will provide insights into whether plants can produce antigens that are usable in a COVID-19 vaccine.

“As Canada, and the world, face the challenges of COVID-19, we are proud to partner with VIDO-InterVac to provide Canadian leadership in the development of a vaccine,” said ZYUS CEO, Brent Zettl. “Developing vaccines in plant cells has multiple potential benefits, including the ability to quickly produce a vaccine at scale, having no animal pathogen contaminants, and lower bioreactor processing costs. This is an important initiative for us as an organization, and as citizens looking to make a difference, ZYUS is committing research and development expertise, resources and energy to help find a vaccine now and to develop systems to help respond in the future.”

The approach is one of several that VIDO-InterVac is exploring in an effort to expand vaccine development against this novel coronavirus.

“VIDO-InterVac’s vision is protecting Canada and the world from infectious diseases,” said VIDO-InterVac Director Dr. Volker Gerdts. “Through this partnership, we are exploring alternative methods of antigen production with a goal to potentially expand global vaccine production capacity for COVID-19.”

By mid-summer 2020, ZYUS plans to have extracted enough specific protein through its plant expressions system for VIDO-InterVac to determine its effectiveness in animal models of COVID-19.

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