SEATTLE, Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) is advancing several COVID-19 therapies and vaccines after spending nearly three decades working to keep its proven technology available to the public to support effective responses from the scientific community in the event of a pandemic.
“IDRI has spent the last 27 years developing a suite of highly effective, inexpensive, virus-fighting tools to help people augment their innate immune systems that have been rigorously validated by the scientific community and shown to be safe in humans. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to help drive forward a variety of therapies, treatments and vaccines to fight COVID-19 and future pandemic viruses,” said IDRI CEO Dr. Corey Casper. “IDRI was made to deal with viruses like COVID-19, but unlike some of the other institutions working in this space, we are making the scientific building blocks for fighting this pandemic widely available, and at a low cost.”
To that end, IDRI is partnering with multiple academic, private, public and nonprofit organizations to use it’s immune enhancing “adjuvant” technology, RNA vaccines, manufacturing, process science / product development, and expertise in the design and execution of clinical trials, to advance preventative measures against and treatments for those who have contracted COVID-19. This kind of collaboration is key to IDRI’s mission of ensuring that novel therapies reach the most vulnerable populations. Highlights of these efforts include:
- IDRI and Celularity have seen promising preliminary results from a therapy using “natural killer” (NK) cells in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19. The therapy is in line with IDRI’s core area of expertise, as it is based on a key cellular component of your innate immune system which allows immune cells to find active viral infection, kill the virus and induce a robust immune response that helps heal the damage and control the infection. On September 3, 2020 the first patient received treatment using the novel immune therapy, and the trial is ready to accept additional patients in locations across the U.S.
- Amyris and IDRI announced a partnership in July to advance a novel RNA vaccine platform utilizing semi-synthetic squalene-based adjuvants, which are a crucial and more sustainable ingredient in vaccine development. This RNA vaccine platform is part of the same category of vaccines as those currently in development by Moderna and Pfizer, but without the recently publicized distribution and storage challenges. Early evidence suggests that IDRI’s RNA vaccine platform can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time and may offer a stable and potent alternative platform for future vaccine development.
- IDRI’s adjuvants are in the hands of 57 vaccine developers in seven countries around the world, some of which are already showing progress toward a potential COVID-19 vaccine, including those under development with Baylor’s College of Medicine and iBio.
“In addition to focusing funds, time and energy on the COVID-19 therapies that are currently part of Operation Warp Speed, the broader scientific community must also look for ways to support and collaborate with the many smaller nonprofits, academic groups and biotech companies working on promising solutions. Some, like IDRI, have spent years developing nontraditional therapies, novel vaccine platforms and treatment avenues that may be the key to controlling both COVID-19 and preparing society for the next pandemic,” said Dr. Casper. “There are potentially groundbreaking resources out there that are, in the case of adjuvants and other tools at IDRI’s disposal, already readily available, not to mention easy and inexpensive to manufacture and accessible to the public.”
Further evidence of IDRI’s recent success can be found in their partnership with Merck. As a result of their recent agreement, IDRI’s adjuvants may play a vital role in future Merck-developed vaccines. Adjuvants are molecules that increase the quality of the immune response. They are currently used in vaccines for hepatitis, whooping cough, tetanus, human papillomavirus, tuberculosis and malaria – and are showing promise in vaccines under development for the treatment of COVID-19. Importantly, as the novel coronavirus begins to mutate, vaccines containing adjuvants can still offer protection. These formulas are also more stable, making adjuvant-based vaccines easier and safer to stockpile – a critical factor as the nation plans for future pandemics. “It’s even possible that adjuvants may someday be used to prevent and treat diseases on their own,” said Dr. Casper. “Unlocking the power of a persons own immune system to keep them free from disease or allow them to recover more quickly may be the wave of the future.”
As a nonprofit global health organization located in Seattle, Wash., IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) takes a comprehensive approach to combat infectious diseases and cancer, combining the high-quality science of a research organization with the product development capabilities of a biotech company to create vaccines and therapeutics. IDRI combines passion for improving human health with the understanding that it is not just what our scientists know about disease, but what we do to change its course that will have the greatest impact. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 55 employees with more than 100 partners/collaborators around the world. For more information, visit IDRI online at www.idri.org.
SOURCE Infectious Disease Research Institute