A small Australian nanocellular technology firm has a "second-generation" vaccine it believes will be effective against the Delta, Omicron and future COVID-19 variants.
The technology works like velcro. No matter how much the virus mutates, it sticks to it like glue, EnGeneIC says.
During trials at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital, the vaccine worked best in people with compromised immune systems who might not respond effectively to existing vaccines, the biotechnology firm said on Wednesday.
It has struck a deal with US billionaire scientist and Zoom stakeholder Patrick Soon-Shiong to bankroll its development.
The joint founders of Sydney-based EnGeneIC, Himanshu Brahmbhatt and Jennifer MacDiarmid, known as H and J, said it was a "meeting of minds".
"We believe this collaboration will result in an effective vaccine, particularly against mutants of concern, being deployed in developing countries where vaccine rollout is logistically challenging," Dr Brahmbhatt said.
The world-first technology is based around a biological nanocell dubbed the EnGeneIC Dream Vector (EDV).
The EDV vaccine is stored at room temperature as a powder and has a shelf life of more than three years, making it useful for rural and remote places.
Scientists in Australia are preparing to send blood samples from six vaccinated volunteers to Tulio de Oliveira at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, who discovered and sequenced Omicron.
Professor de Oliveira will test if these antibodies are able to protect against Omicron.
Dr Soon-Shiong's US company ImmunityBio plans to build manufacturing facilities in the United States and South Africa, and cover costs associated with clinical trials and regulatory approvals.
"A critical element of the platform is the ability to democratise this technology across the globe and bring much needed 21st century care to the underdeveloped world," Dr Soon-Shiong said.
Under the deal, EnGeneIC will grant ImmunityBio an exclusive, worldwide licence for the potential vaccine.
Australian Associated Press