mRNA vaccine for COVID-2019 infections is being developed by eTheRNA Immunotherapies (spin-off from the VUB university). The development programme is focused on a vaccine candidate that integrates three different technologies, the company's proprietary trimix technology that stimulates dendritic cells into activating a strong CD4 and CD8 T cell response, a combination of T cell epitopes from the virus brought together on a single mRNA construct. An intranasal vaccine delivery platform using a nasal atomizer and a proprietary formulation that delivers the mRNA to the nasal mucosa and optimizes expression will be used. Intranasal delivery has been chosen since the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract are the immune system's primary line of defence. A strong nasal T cell effector and memory response is claimed to fight viral replication, colonization of the lung and thus disease. Preclinical development is underway in Belgium.
A consortium has been formed with North American and European partners to develop the novel mRNA vaccine against COVID-2019 infections. The eTheRNA consortium's approach selects conserved epitopes from the whole viral genome. Creating a vaccine that mounts a strong cellular (T cell) based response against these epitopes offers a better chance to overcome viral variability.
Key Development Milestones
In March 2020, eTheRNA Immunotherapies initiated preclinical development of mRNA COVID-2019 vaccine in Belgium  .