Our vaccine technology

Vaccinations have been around for centuries. Starting with the voluntary inoculation of live smallpox in India and China as early as 200 BC, continuing with Jenner’s inoculation of cowpox (which became the smallpox vaccine) in the 1700s and leading up to today’s use of inactivated or attenuated viruses and proteins. The goal of vaccination is to induce an immune response that can either prevent infection or be used as a treatment. Bionor’s use of modified and immunogenic peptides represents a novel step in vaccination technology.

How vaccines work

Vaccines take advantage of the body’s natural ability to learn how to combat many disease-causing organisms that attack it. What’s more, the body “remembers” how to protect itself from the microbes it has encountered before. Collectively, the parts of the body that remember and repel microbes are called the immune system. Without the immune system, the simplest illness—even the common cold—could quickly turn deadly.

Properties and potential obstacles of traditional vaccines

Traditional vaccines contain either parts of a virus or whole viruses that have been killed or weakened so that they don’t cause disease. When the immune system confronts these harmless versions of these organisms it quickly clears them from the body. In other words, vaccines teach the immune system important lessons about how to defeat its opponents.

The Bionor approach for vaccine development

Bionor uses modified peptides (small protein fragments) to hit a virus where it is most vulnerable. Researchers have discovered conserved regions on one or several viral proteins, which forms these vulnerable parts, and these become the targets for Bionor's vaccines. Peptides can be used to trigger either an “antibody” or a “cell-mediated” immune response. In an antibody response, microbes or infected cells are “tagged” by antibodies for attack by other parts of the immune system or are neutralized directly. As part of a cell-mediated immune response, white blood cells (T-cells) are activated to effectively seek out and kill a virus infected cell.

Why use peptides?

Using peptides provides several important potential benefits. Peptides are well suited for cost-effective, large-scale production. They can be used to “reboost” patients in the event longer immunogenicity is needed.

How are the peptide selected?

Through the analysis of genetic sequences from all known strains of a virus, Bionor identifies certain regions on one or several virus proteins with unique characteristics and with a low likelihood of mutation. Due to their non-changing nature these “conserved” areas represent critical functions of the virus, and they can therefore be selected as a target for peptide design. They also remain conserved across new virus strains, thus overcoming the obstacles associated with rapid mutations of these viruses.

Why are the peptides modified?

When a conserved region has been identified and selected, the peptides are modified by amino acid substitution to enhance their potential to induce an effective immune response. This peptide selection and modification is based on Bionor’s proprietary peptide design platform technology. Bionor’s proprietary technology is well suited to address viruses that constantly “mutate” (changes), as with HIV.

How can the peptide-vaccines be delivered?

The peptides are normally delivered to dendritic cells through “intradermal” injection (within the top-layer of the skin) in combination with an adjuvant (supporting agent, which can enhance the effect) that helps stimulate a cellular response. The adjuvant “Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor” (GM-CSF) has been used for Vacc-4x. It is injected intradermally at the same site as the vaccine because of its known effects on dendritic cell maturation and migration. Dendritic cells are targeted because they are plentiful in the skin and their job is to find and respond to foreign material/organisms and are the most potent antigen-presenting cells. This intradermal delivery technology is a standard technology that has been used in other products currently on the market.