Amyris, Inc., a leading synthetic biotechnology company in Clean Health and Beauty markets and IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) signed a binding term sheet for a planned COVID-19 RNA (ribonucleic acid) vaccine technology program. The program combines IDRI’s expertise in combating infectious diseases with Amyris’ fermentation platform technology, with the goal to create semi-synthetic squalene-based adjuvants at scale.
IDRI’s RNA vaccine platform is expected to offer significant differentiated advantages over other RNA vaccines currently in development and will be further enhanced by a scalable Amyris adjuvant.
Adjuvants are added to vaccines as an excipient to enhance their effectiveness and are typically sourced from shark-based squalene, a non-sustainable and non-scalable resource. Amyris’ fermentation technology, which replaces shark-derived squalene with lower cost sugarcane-derived squalene, is capable of delivering greater availability facilitating access to adjuvants by large parts of the population. Amyris’ squalene is targeted to be functionally identical to shark-based squalene and will be certified as such as one of the last steps to commercialization.
“The combination of IDRI’s leading RNA vaccine platform technology combined with Amyris’ sustainably-derived adjuvant has the potential to lead on efficacy for a COVID-19 vaccine solution and potentially play a major role in other vaccine solutions to help mitigate potential future pandemics,” said IDRI’s CEO Corey Casper. “Without adjuvants, vaccines are not maximally effective, and a shortage of existing shark-based adjuvant supply could prove devastating in the future, underlining the importance of this anticipated partnership.”
“We are pleased to partner with IDRI to combat COVID-19 and deliver a significant breakthrough for vaccine technology into the future,” said John Melo, Amyris President and CEO. “We believe synthetic biology can play a significant role in scaling vaccines and therapies that meet the needs of global health crises. Making the world’s rarest chemistry available and affordable has been Amyris’ purpose since its founding in 2003. Soon after its founding Amyris partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and created an alternative supply source through fermentation for artemisinin, a first-line treatment for malaria that is still recommended by the World Health Organization today.
Many organizations are working toward a COVID-19 vaccine solution, with uncertain outcomes. IDRI’s expertise in vaccines combined with our leading synthetic biology platform presents a real opportunity to deliver the most scalable and highest efficacy vaccine for COVID-19. We are focused on a second-generation solution that is better performing and can deliver a sustainable platform for vaccines to address future pandemics. We expect first commercial supply of our leading vaccine adjuvant by the end of this year and, assuming successful trials, could have a successful vaccine platform next year.”
Amyris and IDRI anticipate executing a comprehensive agreement after which additional details of the proposed program will be disclosed. In the interim, work on advancing the vaccine is continuing to ensure accelerated time to market.