Luk Vandenberghe, PhD, Leads COVID-19 Vaccine Development

June 3, 2020

researchers working on the vandenberghe aavcovid vaccine program stand in from of mass eye and ear

The AAVCOVID vaccine program, led by Luk Vandenberghe, PhD, director of the Grousbeck Gene Therapy Center at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, is a unique gene-based vaccine approach for COVID-19. It uses an adeno-associated virus (AAV)—a harmless viral vector—as a delivery vehicle for inducing an immune response.

Over the past month, the program has formalized a number of critical industry and academic partnerships to further advance its goal to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to the market. 

  • The internationally-renowned Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania will help to conduct the preclinical studies required by the FDA to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. 
  • AveXis, a Novartis Company and an industry leader in gene therapy, has joined the program to produce the novel genetic vaccine. AveXis will begin manufacturing the vaccine this month while the AAVCOVID research team continues preclinical studies.
  • Leading commercial biologics manufacturers Viralgen, Aldevron, and Catalent have signed on to provide immediate support toward clinical trial readiness, production of vaccine dose under Good Manufacturing Practice conditions, and scalable processes to address future supply.  

Additionally, the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR) announced funding awards, totaling over $16.2 million to support several COVID-19 research projects, including AAVCOVID. 

Dr. Vandenberghe's work continues to receive great media coverage. To read the latest news, visit the Mass. Eye and Ear website.