Hanmi Science- Bioapp “Green bio-based COVID-19 vaccine on full-scale development”


Hanmi Science (CEO Lim Chong-yoon, Hanmi Group Holding Company) and a promising bioventure Bioapp (CEO Son Eun-joo), which is developing various plant-based antigen proteins, potential vaccine candidates against COVID-19, entered into an R&D cooperation agreement on June 16, and announced the results of high antibody response of their candidates verified in animal experiments with mice and guinea pigs on July 9th.

Along with this, Professor Kim Dong-min of Chosun University, School of Medicine and his team evaluated efficacies for Bioapp’s antigens with various adjuvants from Curatis. The research team confirmed that cell-mediated and humoral immune responses were activated after 2 doses, showing 16,000 binding antibody titer in the ELISA. Bioapp said, “We are planning to assess the capability of these proteins to generate neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. According to the high amount of binding antibody we achieved, we are confident to observe large number of neutralizing antibodies.”

Bioapp CEO Son Eun-joo said this was “the first case demonstrating the potential for the plant-based SARS-CoV-2 antigen proteins to become a vaccine in Korea.” Also stating, “The research team will evaluate the ability of protection against viral infection through a challenge test in animal models with ferrets (a mammal of the weasel family) and hamsters.”

Green bio-based COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most innovative attempt to conquer the challenge imposed by the pandemic with its advantage in reducing the vaccine development timeline up to 6 weeks (typically, vaccine development process with eggs could take up to 6 months), enabling quick response against emergent of possible mutations of viruses. Hence the global pharmaceutical companies’ green bio-based COVID-19 vaccine roundup began.

On July 7th, GSK, a frontrunner for the infectious disease area, announced the co-development collaboration with a Canadian green-vaccine developer, Medicago (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe) for the development of plant-based COVID-19 vaccine. The type of vaccine involved in this collaboration is the same type of vaccine (plant-derived virus-like particle) currently under development by Hanmi Science and Bioapp.

The COVID MDT program has been accelerated further with the successful first animal study results along with synergistic effects between Hanmi’s experience in drug development and Bioapp’s state-of-the-art plant vaccine technology. Both companies proclaimed that they will make their best efforts to make Korea the leader in green bio.