"Dominik Sarma is sipping his coffee. In his laboratory's office in the Berlin district of Adlershof, Sarma talks about the worldwide race for a vaccine against the coronavirus. He says the last few months have felt like a high point for science. "The world is taking up the fight against the pandemic together. That is impressive to see," he says then.
Foto: Reto Klar / FUNKE Foto Services
This is how the great article in the Berliner Morgenpost begins (Check the full article here). It's the first public announcement on our own project to develop a peptide-based vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
When the pandemic was at full throttle in Germany, and the lockdown came, we knew we could help with our cleavable linker-based PEC technology. At that time, we were about to launch our Highthroughput-Kit. We saw the technology match and helped companies like NEC Laboratories Europe to support validation studies to find the right lead from hundreds of predicted epitopes (read press release). The PEC-Linker allows purifying peptides in parallel because it relies on a one-pot procedure and chemo-selective isolation of the product (check the animation video here). The process significantly increases throughput to prepare large peptide libraries for finding the right epitopes for further development steps.
We got another ace in the hole: the PEC-technology allows the modification of unprotected peptides on the solid phase, providing access to yet "untargetable" peptide conjugates. Such modifications, however, are crucial in peptide vaccines to connect the important adjuvant to the peptide. Such self-adjuvanted peptides combine efficiency and stability and represent the next generation of peptide vaccines. The mission was clear. We designed and launched our first own drug project to take advantage of the PEC-assisted peptide modification to develop a self-adjuvant peptide vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
That story holds even more potential in the long run as PEC is a tool that supports the full development pipeline until the manufacturing. We envisage the scale-up using the PEC-Linker to dramatically reduce the amount of waste generated and provide low-cost access to large-scale production for manufacturers worldwide.
We are now at the start but ready to move fast - so stay tuned for more to come in 2021.