AchilleS has inherited the enormous know-how and expertise on vaccines thanks to the work carried out over the years, frequently in the fertile ecosystem of the Siena Vaccine Hub, on bacteria and viruses. Based on the technology called Reverse Vaccinology, a scientific method introduced by Dr. Rino Rappuoli in the 1990s, AchilleS aims to develop a revolutionary approach to research and development of new vaccines
Therefore, a team of first-class experts in the field of malaria and vaccinology has been joined to the best talents in the field of data science and artificial intelligence to face the challenge aimed at synergizing three scientific areas developed independently but strongly integrated: research on malaria, vaccinology and artificial intelligence applied to science. In this way we obtain the result of the birth of a new, powerful bio-informatics platform, called Lab 4.0, a tool that can optimize laboratory procedures, data collection and analysis with the aim of achieving better R&D outputs, at lower cost and in much faster time.
AchilleS can benefit from the use of information contained in clinically relevant libraries of immortalized B memory cells. Thanks to the fundamental work of Prof. A. Lanzavecchia, who applied this advanced technology in the field of malaria with libraries originating from endemic countries, with the approach described as follows.
After isolation, human B-memory cells are immortalized using Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and then activated as plasma cells. They are kept in single-cell cultures using interleukin 6 (IL- &) or stromal cells and multiple high-performance cell assays are performed on them; for example, functional assays for identifying rare cells that produce antibodies with unique properties. Thanks to this, it is possible to isolate potent and largely neutralizing antibodies, and therefore the possibility of identifying the efficiency of antibodies and, consequently, the most promising candidates for vaccine design.
During their growth phase gram negative bacteria naturally release small round vesicles (25-250 nm in diameter) that resemble the composition and orientation of the bacterial outer surface, which in actuality is the surface that is primarily exposed to the immune system. These non-replicative bodies have been conventionally termed outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). They contain excellent intrinsic immunostimulatory properties that are based on their composition. The vesicles consist of phospholipids, LPS, outer membrane proteins, and entrapped soluble periplasmic components. When used as vaccines, OMVs have been shown to be safe and highly immunogenic at very low doses both in animal and human models, as they are intrinsically capable of engaging both innate and adaptive immunity. We took advantage of this natural process and of state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to develop a versatile, cost-effective, and intelligent vaccine technology platform. This proprietary process enables us to produce with low manufacturing costs and high yield, self adjuvanting, highly immunogenic, and safe bacterial particles which can be decorated in a “fit for purpose” method with homologous or heterologous antigens. Our modified OMV (mOMV) technology contains all the necessary characteristics of an ideal vaccine platform for both developed and developing countries. This is due to its swift and easy manufacture, affordability, and its ability to be safe while inducing broad and long-lasting protection.
Electron microscopy OMV
Embracing the current paradigms of Industry 4.0, AchilleS Vaccines is building a revolutionary and innovative Biotech Laboratory 4.0 with the ambitious aim of improving R&D capacity in real time while maintaining the advantages of an experimental data generation chain. By leveraging smart systems and equipment, we can create intelligent processes that interact with and influence each other while still possessing human oversight by our team within all phases of the product’s value chain. By taking advantage of the principles of the Internet of Things (IoT) through our sophisticated data curation and real-time analysis of generated data, we are creating the unprecedented ability to use and integrate all of the information produced during the experimental research phases.
This framework enables us to multiply our capacity to determine, evaluate, and ultimately fully control all the critical parameters of the processes and products under development. Exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI), we are able to extract information that is not only useful for better controlling the experimental phase, but also allows us to manage our data proactively, thus optimizing time and resources. Most crucial is that our data management practices will help ensure the quality of both the processes and the products to a level not currently achievable using the conventional methodologies.