EIDB is accelerating the Army’s efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with COVID-19. The leading vaccine candidate is built on a Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) platform and entered Phase 1 clinical testing in April 2021.
A Novel Vaccine Approach
The SpFN vaccine developed at WRAIR has been engineered to present specific pieces of the coronavirus spike protein (the part of the virus that attaches to the lungs) to the immune system that are known to elicit the strongest response. In preclinical testing, SpFN was shown to be broadly neutralizing against not only the original virus that causes COVID-19 infection, but also against current emerging variants of concern and the rare, but more deadly, SARS-CoV-1 virus. Phase 1 human testing of the vaccine began at the WRAIR Clinical Trials Center in April 2021.
EIDB's Structural Biology Laboratory, headed by Dr. Gordon Joyce, discovered and produced the highest atomic and structural resolution of the section of the virus that can be effectively disrupted by a vaccine.
This Institute's scientists are taking a strategic long-term approach to their vaccine development efforts. They expect the ferritin vaccine platform to pave the way for a universal vaccine to protect against all known and unknown coronaviruses that could arise in the future.
“We are in this for the long haul,” said EIDB Director Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad. “We have designed and positioned this platform as the next generation vaccine, one that paves the way for a universal vaccine to protect against not only the current virus, but also counter future variants, stopping them in their tracks before they can cause another pandemic.”
WRAIR’s SpFN vaccine is paired with a proprietary adjuvant, the Army Liposome Formulation containing MPLA and QS-21 (ALFQ), to augment the immune response. This adjuvant, developed by Army scientists at WRAIR, has generated strong immune responses in preclinical studies.
WRAIR is also invested in advancing the best COVID-19 vaccines in the field, not only its own products. EIDB scientists are working closely with private and public collaborators and supporting the federal Operation Warp Speed initiative to advance vaccines developed outside the of the Institute.