HeathcareValneva, Ose Immunotherapeutics… Will Nantes' vaccines be ready for...

Valneva, Ose Immunotherapeutics… Will Nantes’ vaccines be ready for 2022?

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While five vaccines against Covid-19 have, for the time being, been authorized in the European Union (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novarax), none have been produced by a French laboratory. However, three companies are actively working there: Sanofi, Valneva and Ose Immunotherapeutics, the last two having the particularity of being based in the Nantes region. Where are they at? Will their vaccines be ready for 2022?

The best known, and the most advanced, of the Nantes players is Valneva. The Franco-Austrian group, whose premises are in Saint-Herblain, has mobilized for two years a large part of its workforce (500 people out of 700) to the production of “VLA2001”, a vaccine that does not work with the famous messenger RNA but with inactivated virus particles conjugated to two adjuvants. “It’s a well-known technology,” assures Franck Grimaud, CEO of Valneva. It has been used for years for seasonal flu, rabies, hepatitis A, for example. This is probably the reason why we receive a lot of requests for access to our vaccine, especially among the population of people who have not been vaccinated. “

April target for Valneva

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Two doses will be necessary, followed by a booster “seven to eight months later or even later depending on the clinical data that we will generate”. Clinical trials have shown “a very, very strong antibody level, quite comparable to the antibodies generated by messenger RNA vaccines. We also hope to demonstrate a fairly long term of protection ”. Effective against the Delta variant, VLA2001 is not guaranteed to be effective against Omicron. “We will know in the coming weeks,” indicates Franck Grimaud. But one of the advantages of “inactivated virus” technology is that it generates a greater variety of antibodies. It is therefore hoped to be able to induce greater cross protection. “

Franck Grimaud, director of the Valneva laboratory. – JF.Monier / AFP

On the calendar side, the first deliveries to the European Commission, with which Valneva has signed a contract for 60 million doses, are scheduled for April, subject to authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). “If we obtained a registration earlier, we could deliver earlier because we already have doses available”, promises Franck Grimaud. As for the booster formulas, in particular those compatible with another type of vaccine previously administered, “authorization is expected in the second trimester for adults and adolescents, in the third trimester for children”.

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Valneva, which is also trying to develop vaccines against Lyme disease and chikungunya, will open a second large production unit for its VLA2001 in Scotland in the first half of the year. The company will then be able to produce more than 100 million doses per year.

Immune Ose vaccine, promising against variants

Located on the island of Nantes, a stone’s throw from the site of the future CHU, the biotech Ose Immunotherapeutics is also working, with less resources, on the development of a vaccine against Covid-19. About ten people, out of the 70 employees of Ose Immuno, are developing this serum called “CoVepiT”. Designed on “basis of optimized and selected epitopes”, it would open great hopes against mutations in the virus. “By targeting eleven virus proteins, this second generation vaccine covers all Sars-Cov 2 variants identified worldwide to date,” says the company specializing in innovative immunotherapies against cancer. The interest of CoVepiT would be enhanced for fragile patients “in particular for immunocompromised patients with weak antibody responses, despite repeated administration of the current vaccines registered”.

Still, we will have to wait to dispose of it. The clinical trial was voluntarily suspended in July due to the observation of adverse effects. The latest data have been reassuring and additional results are now expected in the “first quarter of 2022”. “When you stop, you lose six to nine months,” regrets Maryvonne Hiance, vice-president of Ose Immunotherapeutics.

Children and the unvaccinated in the sights

Doesn’t the marketing of these new vaccines run the risk of being too late, when the majority of French people and Europeans are already currently receiving their third dose? “This virus is unfortunately here to stay, probably a bit like the flu, responds the director of Valneva. We left for the medium and long term. Having another technology in the vaccine portfolio will certainly help governments. Our goal is to arrive as soon as possible, to participate in the vaccination of children and adolescents. Also for adults who have not been vaccinated too, you should know that there are more than 10 million in Germany and 5 million in France. “

“It should be remembered that normally, a drug or a vaccine, it is 10 to 15 years of development, insists the vice-president of Ose Immunotherapeutics, questioned by AFP. In the United States, health authorities have agreed that phases 1, 2 and 3 of clinical trials be carried out at the same time. It needed $ 500 million, and they put it in. In France, nobody put 500 million. If Valneva was a little faster, it is because the British invested in their vaccine. Funding remains the sinews of war. “

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Janice Thomas
Janice Thomas is a content editor at 24 News Recorder. She has 5 years of journalism experience and she he is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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