The problem we face going forward as a big world of diverse nations and communities all dealing with the Covid threat is the uneven access we have had, continue to have, and will likely always have in terms of access to testing and vaccines. Much of the world falls into the category: Underserved. And it will likely be impossible to completely solve that issue. But there are signs that we are starting to figure it out.
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) offers a very constructive example. The company is developing a vaccine using its proprietary fungal vector platform – technology that could help level the playing field by making vaccines easier, faster, and cheaper to manufacture and transport.
DYAI bills itself as a global biotechnology company focused on further improving, applying and deploying its proprietary C1-cell protein production platform to accelerate development, lower production costs and improve access to biologic vaccines and drugs at flexible commercial scales.
It has already created collaborations with labs in India and South Korea. Yesterday, the company massively widened its reach potential in underserved markets with the announcement that it signed a COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer and licensing agreement with the Rubic Consortium, a South African-based company whose mission is to develop a South African-based solution for the discovery, development, evaluation and manufacture of high-quality, cost-effective vaccines for distribution primarily to the African markets.
With this deal coming in the context of its other collaborations, DYAI gains potential access to future vaccine distribution to more than 40% of the world’s population.
That could put the stock on the radar of investors already closely engaged with other stocks in the space, including Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX), Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX), AstraZeneca plc (NASDAQ:AZN), and iShares Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB).
The Global Imperative
Dyadic’s gene expression platform is geared for producing commercial quantities of industrial enzymes and other proteins. It is based on the Thermothelomyces fungus, which the company calls “C1”.
Earlier this year, Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) announced its own C1-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate-DYAI-100-with plans to advance it into a first-in-human Phase 1 trial during the second half of this year.
In late May, Dyadic launched a partnership with India’s Syngene International (part of Bangalore-based biotech Biocon) to produce a C1-based COVID-19 vaccine aimed at variants of concern, including the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant that was first identified in India.
mRNA-based vaccines have accounted for nearly all doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered across the U.S., according to the CDC. The worldwide percentage of vaccinations accounted for by mRNA-based vaccines is not known because not all nations track such data, but is believed to be a majority of shots tallied globally by the World Health Organization.
But these vaccines are more costly to produce and harder to transport, distribute, and administer than traditional vaccines.
Large unvaccinated populations around the world represent fertile breeding grounds for the emergence of new and dangerous variants that could someday march back across the world, impervious to current vaccine solutions, resulting in resurgent hospitalizations and deaths, and fresh economic devastation.
A scalable vaccine that can be produced faster and cheaper, and that can be quickly distributed in underserved areas is critical to avoiding this outcome. DYAI offers one potential solution to that problem.
The Next Step
As noted in DYAI’s most recent release, the World Health Organization recently stated, “there are currently fewer than 10 African manufacturers with vaccine production capacity based in 5 countries with no immediate readiness to repurpose facilities for large scale production in the event of an emergency.”
“The need to quickly acquire and commercialize technology and manufacturing capabilities, which addresses the infrastructure necessary to deploy vaccinations for broad populations affordably and timeously has never been a more strategic imperative of African nations than today,” said Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology, Dean Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, who is leading COVID-19 vaccine trials in South Africa. Professor Madhi continued, “We expect that the high yields and low costs of the C1 cell line have the potential to provide affordable solutions for multiple diseases that African countries are likely to benefit from.”
The deal between Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) and Rubic is a key piece of the puzzle.
Rubic was founded by a consortium of public health, medical, academia, vaccine technology, technology transfer and economic sector experts interested in addressing the region’s specific challenges related to vaccine availability and affordability. Overseeing the implementation of the technologies introduced or developed is a team of leading academics directed by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) academic team, with the support of Wits Health Consortium (WHC), a wholly owned company of Wits.
Michael Tarnok Chairman of the Board stated, “Global health professionals have long known of the varying levels of health services available around the world. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic has specifically highlighted the inequities in vaccination rates. We believe that the efficiency and flexibility of the C1 expression system can reduce the cost and increase worldwide access to vaccines and biologic medicines and contribute to improving global health equity. With anticipated clinical successes, together with our collaborators, we expect our C1 manufacturing platform will be positioned to provide affordable COVID-19 immunization to more than 40% of the global population, including significant areas that have been historically underserved. In addition, this collaboration will also prepare Africa for potential new pandemics and help to address multiple other existing disease states. Further, Dyadic is currently in discussions with other countries that may further expand the Company’s global coverage.”
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