Xanadu spins out of Yale with nasal COVID-19 vaccine tech, teeing up push to curb viral transmission

Xanadu Bio has spun out of Yale University with a nanoparticle delivery platform, positioning it to work on COVID-19 booster vaccines that could be more effective at stopping viral infection and transmission than existing products are. 

First-generation COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death but have proven less adept at stopping transmission of SARS-CoV-2, particularly in the age of the omicron variant. Led by former Roche Vice President Bruce Turner, M.D., Ph.D., Xanadu is aiming to develop a nasal vaccine that stops the virus in its tracks. 

“We believe that by combining the foundational technologies developed by distinguished Yale Professors [Mark] Saltzman and [Akiko] Iwasaki, we can develop intranasal vaccine boosters against SARS-CoV-2 to kill COVID-19 virus in the nasosinus before it spreads deeper into the respiratory tract endangering the patient. By killing the virus in the nose, transmission to others in the community may also be prevented,” Turner said in a statement.

Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) enable the intramuscular administration of mRNA, but research suggests they may be unsuited to nasal delivery. In one study, giving LNPs to mice intranasally caused inflammation of the lungs and death. The Yale researchers designed the PACE materials licensed by Xanadu to be “relatively immunologically silent” to enable their use in the respiratory tract.

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Early evidence that the researchers may have achieved their objective emerged late last month, when the Yale scientists published a preprint paper describing the effect of giving mRNA encapsulated in PACE polymers to mice. 

Xanadu will now take responsibility for advancing candidates based on the technology. The biotech has exclusively licensed PACE and executed options with Yale for the nasal delivery of PACE/spike mRNA and spike recombinant proteins.