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Development of a T-cell-inducing vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection

Grant number: 20/13640-1
Support Opportunities:Research Grants - Innovative Research in Small Business - PIPE
Duration: June 01, 2021 - February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology
Principal Investigator:Luana Raposo de Melo Moraes Aps
Grantee:Luana Raposo de Melo Moraes Aps
Host Company:Imunotera Soluções Terapêuticas Ltda. - EPP
CNAE: Pesquisa e desenvolvimento experimental em ciências físicas e naturais
City: São Paulo
Associated researchers:Luis Carlos de Souza Ferreira ; Rúbens Prince dos Santos Alves
Associated scholarship(s):21/05698-2 - Development of a T-cell-inducing vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection, BP.PIPE


he emergence of betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2 at the end of 2019 in China lasts for almost a year and has already resulted in more than 30 million infections and 1 million deaths worldwide. Vaccines are essential and urgently needed to control the pandemic and the strategies under development are mostly aimed at inducing antibodies against the viral protein spike, responsible for binding to the ECA-2 cell receptor (ACE-2). However, the antibody response against natural coronavirus infection, in general, tends to be short-lived, which would indicate an inadequate protection correlate if considered in isolation. Epidemiological observations of the SARS-CoV-1 outbreak in China in 2005, the in vitro demonstration that antibodies against variants of the spike protein can increase infection, as well as the induction of harmful effects by two vaccines targeting that protein, suggest a dual role between protection and pathology mediated by antibodies directed at the spike. On the other hand, previous studies using SARS-CoV-1 have shown that CD8 T cells promote viral load reduction, clinical recovery and protection under experimental conditions, as well as promoting survival for years after primary infection even in animals that have not developed responses antibody-mediated. In addition, cytotoxic responses mediated by CD8 T lymphocytes are responsive after restimulating in vitro, resulting in high production of cytokines and antiviral molecules, showing that they play a critical role in protection against SARS-CoV. ImunoTera, in turn, developed two products that use as a base a technology totally focused on the induction of T cells. Its first product, in the form of DNA vaccine, was able to induce high frequencies of specific CD8 T lymphocytes that were correlated to the regression and permanent cure of tumors induced by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection in a murine model. The hypothesis we anticipate to demonstrate is based on the premise that a combined CD8 T cell response, in addition to the humoral response, is critical for a successful anti-COVID-19 vaccine. The main objective of this proposal is to develop a DNA vaccine capable of inducing cellular immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 appropriate to the genetics of the population of Brazil, through the design of target sequences that include better SARS-CoV-2 epitopes recognized by T lymphocytes. The use of these regions as antigens in a vaccine formulation should be able to induce a robust cytotoxic cellular response in the Brazilian population, previously or not exposed to the virus, and, thus, contribute to the assembly of lasting immune protection against COVID -19. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa para Inovação FAPESP about research grant:
FAPESP-funded startups are developing COVID-19 vaccines  
Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
MILAZZOTTO MALDONADO PORCHIA, BRUNA FELICIO; DE MELO MORAES APS, LUANA RAPOSO; RAMOS MORENO, ANA CAROLINA; DA SILVA, JAMILE RAMOS; SILVA, MARIANGELA DE OLIVEIRA; SALES, NATIELY SILVA; DOS SANTOS ALVES, RUBENS PRINCE; REILY ROCHA, CLARISSA RIBEIRO; SILVA, MATHEUS MOLINA; RODRIGUES, KARINE BITENCOURT; et al. Active immunization combined with cisplatin confers enhanced therapeutic protection and prevents relapses of HPV-induced tumors at different anatomical sites. International Journal of Biological Sciences, v. 18, n. 1, p. 15-29, . (11/13805-1, 20/13640-1, 11/20917-0, 17/21358-1, 13/15360-2, 15/16505-0, 18/08502-9)

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