Yesterday La Jolla, California-based biotechnology company Medicinova (NASDAQ:MNOV) announced the joint development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate with Japanese pharmaceutical company BioComo in conjunction with Mie University Japan.
The companies will collaborate to develop a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine with the support of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Mie University Graduate School of Medicine in Tsu, Japan.
The vaccine will use BC-PIV, a human parainfluenza virus type 2 vector that was developed by BioComo and Mie University professor Dr. Tetsuya Nosaka. Under the terms of the agreement, Medicinova was granted the exclusive global development rights to use BC-PIV for COVID-19 vaccine development. The news caused Medicinova’s share price to soar 95% to $11.00 on July 27th.
BioComo has already developed Ebola virus and RS virus vaccines
BioComo’s BC-PIV is a non-transmissible viral vector that is derived from the recombinant parainfluenza virus type 2 (hPIV2). Viral vectors are used by molecular biologists to deliver genetic materials into living cells for the purpose of treating infection. The innovative therapy is said to be highly efficient in its ability to transfer multiple foreign proteins to recipients.
BC-PIV has shown good immunogenicity against antigen proteins without the use of adjuvants. It also has a strong safety profile and does not produce a secondary infectious virus. The prototype of the COVID-19 vaccine has been developed to include the specific SARS-CoV-2 antigen protein to express maximum antigenicity. It is being developed as an intra-nasal formulation as well as an intra-muscular injection. BioComo’s history includes the successful production of a recombinant Ebola virus vaccine in addition to a Respiratory Syncytial (RS) virus prefusion F vaccine using its BC-PIV platform technology.
Medicinova President and CEO Dr. Yuichi Iwaki said, “Given the current global pandemic of COVID-19, we appreciate this very important opportunity to jointly develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 with BC-PIV in collaboration with BioComo and Mie University. Previously, BioComo has been successful in developing vaccines against Ebola virus and RS virus with their BC-PIV technology, which made us confident that their technology will be successful for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”
Medicinova also has a project underway called MN-166 which targets acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), the potentially fatal disease that can be caused by COVID-19. The partnership with BioComo and Mie University gives it a multi-faceted COVID-19 program with both a potential ARDS treatment and a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Meanwhile, BioComo has faced manufacturing roadblocks in the past, so the joint development with Medicinova will potentially allow it to advance through the clinical trial process on a global scale.
Overall, the collaboration appears to be a win-win for both companies. The investment community will be awaiting further developments on the new COVID-19 vaccine project.