Touchlight announces development of a vaccine against COVID-19

Hampton, London, UK – 21 August 2020 – Touchlight is pleased to announce it has begun development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

Bringing together Touchlight’s technology with a team of vaccine development and infectious and respiratory disease experts, this program seeks to augment the existing vaccine development landscape, guided by emerging clinical data and the evolving information about SARS-CoV-2 .

The vaccine is built on the dbDNA platform established by Touchlight over the last decade – a scalable, mobile, synthetic DNA manufacturing platform that is ideally suited to pandemic response scale vaccine production.

The vaccine targets multiple viral antigens with the aim of generating an antibody and T-cell based immune response, whose breadth more closely mimics that of convalescent patients.

It will aim to induce strong mucosal and systemic immunity by using two minimally invasive delivery routes: nasal and intradermal, respectively.

The re-doseable nature of the vaccine vector would make it viable for use in subjects requiring boosting following prior vaccination with other single dose modalities. The platform would allow rapid adaptation and re-vaccination in the event of significant mutation or the emergence of a seasonal coronavirus threat.

Eliminating the cold chain for vaccine distribution will be a parallel focus for the program, leveraging the chemical nature of DNA and its ability to be formulated as a dried product for long term, room temperature storage.

Helen Horton, Chief Research Officer, recently joined Touchlight from her role as Senior Scientific Director of Vaccines at Janssen and is leading the preclinical development of the vaccine at Touchlight: “Protection from the virus that causes COVID-19 will likely require strong, broad mucosal as well as systemic immunity. The plans moving forward at Touchlight, in collaboration with world renowned experts, should help to address these challenges.”

Garth Rapeport, Visiting Professor of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College and previous CEO of Pulmocide and Respivert has joined the Touchlight nasal vaccine development team: “Mucosal immune responses in the upper respiratory tract are known to play a critical role in the first line defence against respiratory viruses such as SARS-COV-2. We are excited by the potential of novel nasal DNA vaccines to induce highly protective local immunity compared with other delivery routes.”

Jill Makin, Chief Development Officer, brings 30 years vaccine development experience to the program: “Touchlight’s DNA is already being used in the development of drug products by our customers and partners all over the world. Since the synthetic production process lends itself to much more rapid and straightforward scale up and scale out in response to newly emerging viral pathogens than conventional biologics, it makes perfect sense to apply our technology to protecting against COVID-19. DNA vaccines can be simply formulated and are amenable to freeze-drying so offer the best solution to a stable and user-friendly dosage form.”

Preclinical development is underway and Touchlight is targeting a Q2 2021 first in human study.

For more information, please contact: info@touchlight.com or Jonny Ohlson (CEO) 0208 4819200

About Touchlight Genetics

Touchlight is a privately-owned biotechnology company based in London, U.K., focussed on the discovery and development of DNA-based genetic medicines, including DNA vaccines and gene therapies. Touchlight has developed a novel, synthetic DNA vector known as “doggybone” or dbDNA™.

dbDNA™ is a minimal, linear, covalently closed structure, that eliminates bacterial sequences. Touchlight’s revolutionary enzymatic production platform enables unprecedented speed, scale, and the ability to target genes with a size and complexity that is impossible with current technologies.

Touchlight is applying dbDNA across advanced therapeutic modalities, both in-house and with partners. The company also provides contract manufacturing capabilities to produce dbDNA as a critical starting material for advanced therapy production through its manufacturing arm, Touchlight DNA Services.

For more information, please visit our website, www.touchlight.com, or connect with us on LinkedIn.