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Scientist Dr. Prabuddha Kundu and team develop triple-antigen oral COVID vaccine

3 May, 2021 11:17:35
Scientist Dr. Prabuddha Kundu and team develop triple-antigen oral COVID vaccine

As the corona virus pandemic sweeps through the globe, India is seeing an unprecedented rise in the number of daily deaths. India has so far administered more than 127 million doses of a corona virus vaccine in what is the world's largest inoculation drive. Despite a promising start in January, India's vaccine drive has been lagging. And the decision to expand it to the biggest cohort of the country's population -- 18 to 45 year-olds -- comes even as several states report a shortage of vaccine doses.

But not all is lost yet in this battle against the deadly virus and there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. If everything goes well, Bengali scientist Dr. Prabuddha Kundu and his team of researchers are engaged in developing a triple antigen vaccine. They have successfully identified three major antigens as a recombinant novel corona virus vaccine candidate.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay alumnus Dr Prabuddha Kundu is co-founder and Managing Director at Gurgaon-based Premas Biotech which develops novel technologies and partners with global bio-pharmaceutical companies to build and develop novel bio-therapeutic and vaccine candidates.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay alumnus Dr Prabuddha Kundu is co-founder and Managing Director at Gurgaon-based Premas Biotech which develops novel technologies and partners with global bio-pharmaceutical companies to build and develop novel bio-therapeutic and vaccine candidates. Dr Kundu holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, and has interests in protein engineering, bioprocess development, lean transformation, and emerging technologies. In his 20 years of professional experience, he has published more than 22 publications and has 10 patents in his name. A regular speaker at international conferences, Dr Kundu began his career at Bio-Rad (India, Asia-Pacific), before moving to Ranbaxy (India) and then co-founded Premas in 2006. He is an active member of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) - Biotech Group, various institutions, and self-help groups on education, healthcare, and innovations.

Under Dr Kundu’s stewardship, Premas Biotech has partnered with global companies on path-breaking technologies, such as their partnership with Oramed Inc., as only manufacturer of the proteins required for Oral Insulin, which has successfully cleared Phase IIb trials in the US. In the past 14 years, Premas Biotech has worked on more than 650 proteins for the top 20 pharma and biotech organizations across the world. Having developed over 30 difficult-to-express proteins, which are similar in properties to S, E and M proteins of the COVID-19, the biotech firm is confident of their technology going forward.

Dr. Kundu and his teammates have successfully identified three major antigens as a recombinant novel corona virus vaccine candidate to developing a triple antigen vaccine. Unlike single-protein vaccines currently under trials across the world, Preamps Biotech has adopted a three-pronged approach to develop multi-subunit vaccine, using recombinantly expressed antigens Spike (S), Envelope (E), and Membrane (M) proteins in multiple formats, which it hopes will provide a good chance of immunity against COVID-19. The multi-antigenic approach is being designed to try to overcome presently known and possible future mutations of novel corona virus, which, if successful, would result in the development of an effective vaccine. Accelerating the vaccine’s path to market, Premas, Oramed and other shareholders, have formed Oravax Medical Inc. which has received exclusive licenses from Oramed and Premas to develop oral COVID-19 vaccines.

After successfully completing expression of the three corona virus antigens, Premas Biotech scaled up designs for animal trials. After a single dose of the Oravax COVID-19 capsule, efficacy was evident through antibody production in a pilot animal study. Oravax’s vaccine promoted both systemic immunity through Immunoglobulin G (IgG), the most common antibody in blood and bodily fluids that protects against viral infections, and Immunoglobulin A (IgA) which protects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts against infection. The multi-antigenic approach is being designed to try to overcome presently known and possible future mutations of novel corona virus, which, if successful, would result in the development of an effective vaccine

Dr. Kundu and his teammates have successfully identified three major antigens as a recombinant novel corona virus vaccine candidate to developing a triple antigen vaccine. Unlike single-protein vaccines currently under trials across the world, Preamps Biotech has adopted a three-pronged approach to develop multi-subunit vaccine, using recombinantly expressed antigens Spike (S), Envelope (E), and Membrane (M) proteins in multiple formats, which it hopes will provide a good chance of immunity against COVID-19.

Based on an exclusive D-Crypt technology that is developed and improved upon by Premas Biotech over the past decade, a modified version of baker’s yeast or Saccharomyces cerevisiae is being used to recombinantly produce the antigens, thus making the potential vaccine relatively easy to manufacture and produce at a mass scale to cater to large populations, not only in India but all over the world. Baker’s yeast grows fast, is more cost-effective as compared to other modern technologies and has been viewed as a safe compound by regulatory agencies like the US FDA and DCGI in other drugs. Specifically, a yeast host platform has been successfully used to produce many drugs, including drugs like insulin and many blood products and hormones. Using D-Crypt technology, multi-million doses can be produced in a week. If the vaccine is approved, it will be the first triple antigen composition that will come from an Indian company, ready for the world.

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