World Immunisation Week: transforming innovations into immunotherapies
The World Immunisation Week – celebrated every year in the last week of April – aims to raise awareness about the critical role immunisation plays in preventing diseases and protecting life. This year's campaign is entitled 'Vaccines bring us closer' to celebrate the contribution of routine vaccination to health, as well as highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic. In the context of the awareness week, the EIC Community discovered 3 EIC-funded companies exploring new generation immunotherapies. Osivax, Avectas and RhoVac are working on therapies that go beyond the conventional treatments, from personalised vaccines to cell engineering technologies.
Osivax: a breakthrough "universal" influenza vaccine
Symptomatic flu, another respiratory RNA viral infection, affects ~10% of the global population every year and leads to regular pandemic outbreaks. Healthcare systems urgently seek a universal flu vaccine that would provide multi-season protection against all seasonal and emerging pandemic viral strains. OSIVAX, a French clinical-stage innovative biotech, strives to develop vaccines able to prevent respiratory viral infections across multiple seasons and outbreak, including coronavirus.
The majority of vaccines target a specific protein and train the immune system to recognise this particular protein and neutralise the microbe or virus that carries it. The company's universal flu vaccine candidate, OVX836, is based on oligoDOM® - a proprietary immune-boosting technology that triggers powerful, targeted and durable immune responses involving activation of specific immune response killing infected cells. The solution circumvents the need for annual vaccination updates by targeting an intraviral protein highly conserved across all influenza strains. Osivax is now focused on providing proof-of-concept in influenza and coronavirus and applying its oligoDOM® platform broadly in other infectious and immune system-associated diseases.
Avectas: affordable immunotherapy to fight cancer
Let's now take a closer look into cancer immunotherapy. The treatment process consists of 'arming' patients' own immune cells with cell engineering to target and kill cancer cells, topping the levels of response in patients. This immunotherapy treatment shows very good clinical results, so it should be reaching as many patients as possible, with affordable costs.
Currently, cell engineering methods are costly to work with. To overcome this problem, Avectas, an EIC-funded company from Ireland, has developed Solupore, a cell engineering technology, which delivers cargo to cells and plays a critical role in the manufacturing process. As a final result, cell health and functionality are preserved while significantly improving process time and costs.
RhoVac: fighting cancer relapses
Immunisation treatments can be successful in several types of diseases, namely prostate cancer - the most diagnosed type of cancer among men worldwide. RhoVac is developing a vaccine to support its treatment. Commonly, cancer therapies focus on treating the primary tumour, but it rarely kills, while metastases can be fatal. The Swedish EIC-funded company created the first therapeutic vaccine against metastatic cancer cells, specifically targeting the prevention of cancer relapses.
RhoVac focused its innovative research on the unmet need for an effective treatment to prevent cancer recurrence after primary tumour therapy, targeting only metastatic cancer cells and metastases in early formation with its RV001 vaccine. Their new approach makes a difference by supporting the immune system to act more effectively in its battle against any type of cancer.
The EIC Community calendar marks World International Days on a regular basis, celebrating successful EIC-funded innovations from different topics. On 11 July, the World Population Day 2021 aims to increase people's awareness on various population issues such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights. If you have an innovation connected to this topic, share your story with us via our helpdesk (please select the category 'Propose a story/an article).