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N4 Pharma Exploring How Nuvec® Can Be Used To Help Fight COVID-19

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N4 Pharma Plc, the specialist pharmaceutical company developing Nuvec®, a novel delivery system for cancer treatments and vaccines, has announced that it will be undertaking a proof of concept research project using a COVID-19 DNA plasmid for the purpose of demonstrating the ability of Nuvec® to be used as a delivery system by potential collaboration partners developing COVID-19 DNA or RNA vaccines.

Nuvec® is a silica nanoparticle with elongated silica spikes radiating from the core. This topography results in a high surface area which subsequently is coated with Polyethylenimine (“PEI”), resulting in a positively charged surface. It has been previously demonstrated that oligonucleotides including plasmid DNA and mRNA can be attached to the nanoparticle at high loading capacity. In both in vitro and in vivo test models, the loaded nanoparticle is taken up by cells involved in transfection/transduction processes resulting in the synthesis of foreign proteins and stimulation of the required immunological response.

The proof of concept work will show whether Nuvec® is capable of loading the COVID-19 plasmid and transfecting cells with the plasmid in vitro. Assuming successful in vitro transfection, the Company will then undertake a proof of concept in vivo study to demonstrate the improved transfection when using Nuvec®, compared to not using the delivery system, by measuring the production of the antigenic protein and antibodies generated against the encoded COVID-19 protein.

The COVID-19 DNA plasmid will be licensed from the National Institute for Health (NIH) in the USA and is the same plasmid provided to leading biotech companies and researchers already working on COVID-19 vaccines. The Company will appoint an experienced contract research organization (CRO) that it has worked with previously to undertake the program of studies outlined above. Further details on timings will be notified as soon as they are available. It is important to note that N4 Pharma is not itself attempting to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, it is purely seeking to demonstrate whether Nuvec® could work as a delivery system for a vaccine when it is developed.

Nigel Theobald, Chief Executive Officer of the Company, commented:

“Developing a convincing proof of concept data package for Nuvec® is a key priority for the Company so demonstrating whether Nuvec® is capable of loading a plasmid DNA for the Coronavirus provides an opportunity to show the versatility and potential for our Nuvec® delivery system, and to license Nuvec® to partners looking to develop vaccines for this virus.  We are not doing this work to develop a vaccine for Coronavirus but rather to demonstrate to those working on these vaccines how Nuvec® may enhance any vaccine and could be beneficial for subsequent vaccines they may be looking to develop for this Coronavirus or other viruses that may well surface in the future.”