Dyadic International Inc (NASDAQ:DYAI) CEO Mark Emalfarb spoke with Fox Business about how companies could leverage its proprietary C1 technology — an industrially proven fungal gene expression technology for producing enzymes — to speed vaccine development for pandemics like coronavirus.
There is currently no vaccine for the strain of deadly coronavirus from China that has killed more than 100 people. There are three prongs to treating a virus like the coronavirus: developing a vaccine, having a high-quality diagnostic test and a therapeutic.
Founded in 1979, Jupiter, Florida-based Dyadic engages in the large-scale manufacture of low-cost enzymes and other proteins for markets in the United States and Europe.
Interestingly, Dyadic’s C1 gene expression platform was put to the test by Sanofi Pasteur and based on the mice trial data generated to date, the flu vaccine expressed from C1 performed better, with one-third the dosage and could be produced at a much lower cost.
“We are agnostic to disease,” Emalfarb told the Fox Business anchor when quizzed about vaccine development for the deadly coronavirus.
“We are a platform technology so this (coronavirus vaccine) is just one of many things that can be produced on our platform. Today, the coronavirus is of course in everyone’s mind, but the epidemics and the pandemics that the world is facing and will face at an accelerated rate, you have to be able to make these vaccines in large volumes at low-cost,” he added.
Brings vaccines to market faster at a lower cost
Dyadic’s C1 gene expression platform specializes in enzymes and protein production more efficiently than competing methods.
The company leverages its proprietary C1 expression system to help bring biologic vaccines, therapeutic enzymes, proteins, biosimilars and drugs to market faster and at a lower cost.
The firm has patented its proprietary filamentous fungus, Myceliophthora thermophila, and the associated molecular tools used to engineer the C1 cells to express and manufacture large volumes of low-cost enzymes and proteins. The C1 fungus is a living cell that has been bioengineered by Dyadic scientists for more than two decades.
“We have created a cell line after using it for two and half decades in the industrial biotech space…and selling it to DuPont for $75 million. We took that cell line a couple of years ago and are tweaking it to be able to put in DNA to make vaccines and antibodies. They can not only cure, but treat,” said Emalfarb.
Four years ago, Emalfarb sold Dyadic’s industrial technology business to DuPont Inc’s (NYSE:DWDP) industrial biosciences business for $75 million in cash. According to the deal, DuPont granted Dyadic co-exclusive rights to the C1 technology for use in human and animal pharmaceutical applications, with the exclusive ability to enter into sub-license agreements.
Working with the world's largest vaccine makers
“We are working with companies like the Serium Institute of India which is the largest producer of vaccines on the planet by volume. I think that 60% of children all over the world have been vaccinated at one point or another by Serum, Sanofi. We are working with Sanofi as well,” said Emalfarb.
The research and commercialization collaboration agreement with Serum Institute of India is for the development and manufacture of up to 12 antibodies and vaccines using Dyadic's C1 gene expression system.
How far are we from a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus?
“The technology has changed dramatically. Once the Chinese government, Chinese labs and US labs identify the sequencing for the proteins, someone has to test the protein actually works. That’s where we come in,” said Emalfarb.
“Once they have found a gene that is proven to work we can make it more affordable and in larger volumes so that you can take dosages and treat more people globally with it,” he added.
Work has begun at multiple organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, to develop a vaccine for this new strain of coronavirus, known among scientists as 2019-nCoV.
Contact the author Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive