LOWELL, Mass., March 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Versatope Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company developing vaccines and therapeutics, announced today the selection of VT-105, a universal influenza vaccine candidate for clinical development. Versatope uses recombinant outer membrane vesicles (rOMVs) that are based on research from Cornell University Professors David Putnam and Matthew DeLisa. Current influenza vaccines do not consistently offer broad strain protection. Versatope's approach combines diverse variants of influenza strains on a single nano-sized rOMV that may provide better cross-strain protection than influenza vaccines composed of individual strains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza vaccines were overall 29% effective during the 2018–2019 influenza season due to the emergence of new, late season viral strains, resulting in 42.9 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 647,000 hospitalizations, and 61,200 deaths in the United States.
To address the urgent need to develop new universal influenza vaccine candidates, Versatope was recently awarded a contract worth up to $17.9M from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Versatope's influenza vaccine is based on the Matrix-2 (M2) protein ion channel of the influenza virus. Versatope tested several versions of the genetic constructs and found that VT-105 showed more promise for protection than Versatope's earlier influenza vaccine candidates.
Christopher Locher, PhD, CEO of Versatope Therapeutics, Inc. says of the new vaccine candidate, "The process development and preclinical data to date indicate we are on the right track to delivering a broad-spectrum influenza vaccine. We have undergone several development iterations by using genetic engineering and screening for improved properties. The result was the identification of the VT-105 influenza vaccine candidate with improved performance compared to the earlier candidates expressing variants of the same target."
Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD, Full Member (Professor) – Department of Infectious Diseases, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Co-PI St Jude Center for Excellence Influenza Research and Surveillance and Deputy Director World Health Organization Collaborating Center and an expert in Influenza and Astrovirus Virus Pathogenesis Novel Vaccines and Therapeutics, and Microbial Co-Infection, says of Versatope's universal influenza vaccine candidate: "The VT-105 candidate represents a new approach to targeting the virus-infected cell and engaging cellular-mediated immune responses. The vaccine is designed to induce protection against multiple influenza strains."
About Versatope Therapeutics
Versatope Therapeutics, Inc., is a start-up biotechnology company located in Lowell, Mass. at the University of Massachusetts' M2D2 biotech incubator. This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N2019C00060.
Learn more about Versatope Therapeutics at Versatope.com; Follow us on Twitter @VersatopeRx.
Christopher Locher, PhD CEO
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SOURCE Versatope Therapeutics