ViceBio and the Rapid Response Vaccine Pipeline

Due to the work of Professor Keith Chappell and his research group, the AIBN has the knowledge and infrastructure to ensure Australia can develop and deliver clinical-grade vaccines whenever, and wherever, they are needed.

‘Clamp2’ and a blueprint for future outbreaks

The second-generation Molecular Clamp platform technology enables the rapid generation of viral subunit vaccines, which are safe, elicit an optimal response, are rapid to produce, cost-effective and thermal stable. The Chappell Group leverages the Molecular Clamp technology towards two major projects; one funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which focuses on building a rapid response vaccine pipeline to safeguard against future pandemics, and the second comprising contract research for Biotech spinout, Vicebio Pty Ltd, that seeks to develop highly-effective vaccines for respiratory viruses.

Combining fundamental research, industry connections, and specialist production facilities, the Chappell group has a strong track record of delivering vaccine candidates for potentially devastating diseases, including the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Human metapneumovirus (hMPV), Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Lassa fever virus.

UQ’s groundbreaking ‘Clamp2’ technology has also been integral in advancing a reengineered COVID-19 vaccine to clinical trials: In 2020, the Rapid Response Vaccine pipeline project produced a vaccine for COVID-19 that entered phase I clinical trial testing within 6 months, and in more recently a second-generation Molecular Clamp SARS-Cov-2 vaccine demonstrated an equivalent safety and immunogenicity profile to a licensed COVID-19 within an active comparator Phase I clinical trial.

Crucial to these projects are the specialist NCRIS-funded production facilities housed at the AIBN, including the National Biologics Facility (NBF), which enables AIBN researchers to identify and translate biomedical research discoveries, bridging the gap between early-stage development, testing and clinical supply, and Protein Expression Facility (PEF) which specialises in recombinant protein production to advance our cutting-edge research.

All the services under one roof to design and build a vaccine

“Something that I always emphasise is that it is pretty unheard of to have all the equipment we need to develop a vaccine under the one roof,” says Professor Chappell.

“We've got my team that are set up to do the very first set steps. Then we pass to NBF who can do the expression of high-quality products. Then we use the UQBR facility to conduct immunogenicity studies. Then we move into the virus suite to characterize the immune responses.

“All of those parts are interconnected, and the team knows how to go very quickly through preclinical development into quality research, record that data with integrity, and make it available to regulatory agencies to support our vaccines going forward.”

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