27 April 2020

Scancell Holdings plc - Development of COVID-19 vaccine

Scancell Holdings plc ("Scancell") has initiated the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. The importance of the project will enable Scancell to get back into its labs in Nottingham after observing the lockdown in recent weeks, with additional resources provided by its project partners.

The development of the new vaccine draws upon the IP that Scancell created when establishing its Immunobody cancer vaccine platform. In the early stages of the platform, Professor Durrant and her team realised the importance of dendritic cells in stimulating high avidity (potency) T cells that eliminate virally infected cells. Having used this insight to develop cancer vaccines, Professor Durrant is reapplying the knowledge gained to develop an antiviral vaccine.

Scancell is also using its knowledge of virus neutralising antibodies to create an antibody response to the virus thereby creating a dual mechanism to prevent infection.

In the light of their experience in developing Immunobody’s lead cancer vaccine, SCIB1, Professor Durrant and her team believe that they can produce a simple, safe, cost-effective and scalable vaccine. They also believe that it will be durable and that it has the potential to generate protection not only against COVID-19, but also against new strains of coronavirus that may arise in the future.

With vaccines being the only long-term solution to the crisis, substantial resources are being applied in the UK and elsewhere to the discovery effort. It is important to appreciate that the various development teams are taking a wide range of approaches and that particular vaccines might be suitable for different sections of the population. Safety, cost and ability to manufacture to scale will be critical factors to success. This Nature article surveys the development landscape.

Scancell is planning to initiate a clinical trial in Q1 2021 subject to government or other funding being secured. Although other vaccines may be developed earlier, the company and its partners believe the new vaccine could play a vital role in combatting COVID-19 and other strains of coronavirus given the distinguishing features described in the announcement.

We believe that this initiative demonstrates Scancell's capacity to act as an IP engine and to find new applications for its expertise as demands and opportunities arise. The development of the new vaccine could create substantial value in its own right, but will also draw attention to Scancell’s other IP platforms which require additional capital and clinical resources for development.

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