OBI Pharma Announces Its In-house COVID-19 Vaccine, BCVax, can induce potent antibodies to neutralize against all variants

OBI Pharma Inc. (TPEx: 4174) announced today research results in the past six-months of their new COVID-19 Vaccine. The vaccine, named BCVax, has been proven to induce potent antibodies against COVID-19, and shown to have neutralizing activity against many SARS-CoV-2 variants. OBI has filed patent application to USPTO yesterday.

Dr. Ming-Tain Lai, CSO of OBI Pharma, noted that when the Delta variant set another wave in July of last year, the number of hospitalized cases and death were unprecedented where ICU beds were fully occupied, and medical system completely overloaded. Although several vaccines were available at the time, their ability to produce neutralizing antibodies against the Delta variant was drastically reduced. During that time, OBI decided to invest in a project and consult with CDE at the end of July. The project was accepted to “CDE can Help: COVID-19 Project Regulatory Scientific Counseling Program”, where scientific and regulatory affairs support are provided.

Mr. Frank Chen, CFO of OBI Pharma, pointed out that last November at the investor conference, Dr. Michael Chang, CEO of OBI Pharma, promised to share animal study results by January. With two ad hoc studies due to Omicron, study results have been thus delayed to-date.

Dr. Ming-Tain Lai noted BCVax is designed based on recombinant protein technology. An ideal vaccine should be build based on safety with minimal side effects and a potent adjuvant to induce T-cell response, allowing strong response in immune compromised individuals. Additionally, considerations in stability, manufacturing, and storage conditions are also essential. Recombinant protein technology suffices all of the aforementioned criteria and is one of the most common type of vaccines amongst vaccines in development.

The antigen of BCVax is a Delta spike protein built from naïve structure in trimer. The adjuvant, ISCOM (immune stimulating complex), is an improved version of OBI-821, in which the dosage form is nanoparticles. Potent IgG antibodies induced by the improved adjuvant was observed in animal studies. The Th1 immune response triggered is expected to aid in virus clearance as a result of stronger T cell response.

Project manager Dr. Ming-Chen Yang noted the efficacy of BCVax against the naïve, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron COVID virus is proven to have better neutralizing effects in animal studies. Advantage of ISCOM also provides more potent neutralizing antibodies against variants, such as the Omicron. Its characteristics in stability, manufacturing, and storage conditions at 2–8 °C are additional advantages of BCVax.

Dr. Michael Chang, CEO of OBI Pharma, emphasized that BCVax is advantageous despite its late entry in the COVID vaccine market. OBI filed a patent to the USPTO yesterday and continues to stay open and optimistic to have future partnerships. As COVID-19 continues to threaten people’s lives, OBI hopes to collaborate with upstream and downstream partners to build a vaccine that can represent the strength of Taiwan biotech industry.