Scancell awarded funding by Innovate UK to progress COVID-19 vaccine

  • Scancell has secured funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, through the ‘UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Ideas to Address COVID-19’ funding strand
  • The funding will be used to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial (“COVIDITY”) during 2021.
  • The project is being led by Professor Lindy Durrant, Chief Scientific Officer of Scancell and Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Nottingham and Dr Sally Adams, Development Director at Scancell.

Scancell Holdings plc, the developer of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease, announces that it has secured funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, through the ‘UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Ideas to Address COVID-19’ funding strand. The funding will be used to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial (“COVIDITY”) during 2021.

As previously announced, this project is being led by Professor Lindy Durrant, Chief Scientific Officer of Scancell and Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Nottingham and Dr Sally Adams, Development Director at Scancell. The project is in collaboration with Prof Jonathan Ball in the newly established Centre for Research on Global Virus Infections, Dr James Dixon in the new Biodiscovery Institute at the University of Nottingham, and Prof Graham Pockley at Nottingham Trent University.

Scancell’s DNA vaccines target dendritic cells to stimulate high avidity T cells that identify and destroy diseased cells. This technology has been successfully applied with Scancell’s lead ImmunoBody® cancer vaccine, SCIB1, which was safely administered to patients with malignant melanoma in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial with outstanding 5-year survival.

The Company’s aim is to use this proven technology platform to produce a simple, safe, cost-effective and scalable vaccine that induces both durable T cell responses and virus neutralising antibodies (VNAbs) to provide long lasting immunity against COVID-19. With Scancell set to receive approximately £2m of the consortium awarded funding, the Company expects it to cover the majority of the development and Phase 1 trial costs.

Scancell’s DNA vaccine will target the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein in addition to the key receptor-binding domain of the spike (S) protein to generate both T cell responses and VNAbs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The N protein is highly conserved amongst coronaviruses; therefore, this new vaccine has the potential to generate protection not only against SARS-CoV-2, but also against new strains of coronavirus that may arise in the future.

Professor Lindy Durrant, Chief Scientific Officer, Scancell, commented:
“T cells, and particularly high avidity T cells, are becoming increasingly recognised as an important factor in vaccine design for inducing long-term immunity against SARS CoV-2. Patients who had recovered from the original 2003 SARS infection have measurable T cell responses many years following recovery. We have been able to translate our ability to stimulate high avidity T cells to treat melanoma into a vaccine that can potentially provide an effective and durable immune response to COVID-19.”

Dr Cliff Holloway, Chief Executive Officer, Scancell, commented:
“We are delighted that Innovate UK has chosen to support our novel COVID-19 vaccine. This funding will allow us to accelerate progress towards our planned Phase 1 clinical trial, COVIDITY. Although other vaccines are already in clinical trials, we believe that our approach could result in a second generation vaccine with more potent and long-lasting responses, particularly in the elderly, leading to better protection against COVID-19.”