Acuitas Therapeutics touted preliminary data that evaluated its messenger RNA vaccine for the Zika virus. The company uses a lipid-nanoparticle delivery system to introduce its mRNA vaccine into cells.
The team’s work, which was published in Nature, showed that a single low-dose immunization with its vaccine triggered an immune response in animals and protected them from infection at 2 weeks, 5 weeks and 5 months post-vaccination.
Messenger RNA carries genetic information to codes for specific proteins. Vancouver-based Acuitas introduces synthetic mRNA into a cell using its lipid-nanoparticle carriers to instruct the cell to produce a therapeutic protein.
In its preclinical study, the synthetic mRNA encoded the pre-membrane and envelope glycoproteins of a Zika virus strain responsible for the 2013 outbreak.
The glycoproteins triggered a protective, neutralizing antibody response in mice and primates, according to the company.
Dr. Drew Weissman, a professor of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania, collaborated with Acuitas on the newly-published study.
“I am delighted that our long-standing collaboration with Dr. Weissman continues to demonstrate the exciting clinical potential of mRNA therapeutics,” president & CEO Thomas Madden said in prepared remarks. “The current data show that a single low dose administration of mRNA-LNP encoding a Zika protein completely protected animals from a subsequent challenge with the virus. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Dr. Weissman to further advance this exciting new therapeutic modality.”
The company, founded in 2009, was previously called AlCana Technologies and has partnered with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NSDQ:ALNY) and others for R&D programs relating to systemic delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics.