17 June 2021

Basel government approves one million for research to develop novel vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

Basel University Hospital, the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute have agreed to collaborate with the company RocketVax and jointly advance research to develop a novel vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The University Hospital Basel (USB), the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) are entering into a research collaboration with the startup company RocketVax. The goal is to develop a next-generation vaccine against Covid-19 that will provide better protection against viral mutants and elicit a longer-term immune response. The collaboration is embedded in the existing, close and productive research collaboration between the three institutions.

RocketVax is developing a vaccine based on a complete but genetically modified virus. Unlike most existing vaccines, the new model is designed to present a large spectrum of viral components to the immune system, eliciting a broader, longer-term stable immune response than most current vaccines, which use only a single viral protein. The virus has a built-in defect (deletion) that cannot be repaired, and therefore can only undergo a single cycle of replication, preventing it from causing disease.

The USB is providing start-up funding of one million Swiss francs to enable the preclinical research work on the new vaccine that has already begun. The University of Basel and Swiss TPH are contributing through research infrastructure and human resources.

The canton of Basel-Stadt is supporting the research collaboration with a contribution of another million Swiss francs from the location development fund. The canton of Basel-Stadt sees potential in the project – for the research and innovation location, but also because of the challenging situation with Covid-19. Both Switzerland and other countries can benefit from a vaccine produced in the Basel region. In addition, the fulfillment of the local supply mandate would be better ensured.

The know-how and innovative ideas for further development of the vaccine are available in the Basel region. The research partners are using this potential to open a window of opportunity now.

About Swiss Rockets AG

Founded in 2018, Swiss Rockets AG is implementing a paradigm shift in healthcare. Patients benefit from new treatments that are developed using innovative and forward-looking methods. The Swiss Rockets team combines the necessary expert knowledge and experience to create innovative medications, focusing mainly on cancer and viral diseases.

The founders of Swiss Rockets AG are Dr. Vladimir Cmiljanovic, Dr. Natasa Cmiljanovic, Manuel Ebner and Dr. Thomas Sander. Vladimir Cmiljanovic is the CEO, a medicinal chemist, and entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ experience in developing cancer medications. He is the founder of the Swiss biotech companies PIQUR and TargImmune. Working with Dr. Natasa Cmiljanovic, the Chief Scientific Officer of Swiss Rockets AG, he developed cancer medications at the University of Basel. Also, he has founded and managed several biotech firms. Manuel Ebner is the Managing Director of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Switzerland, and a strategic advisor to Swiss Rockets. Dr. Thomas Sander, one of the first employees of the biotech firm Actelion, is a scientific advisor to Swiss Rockets.

Members of the Board of Directors of Swiss Rockets AG are Dr. Vladimir Cmiljanovic (Chair), Prof Dr. Michael N. Hall, a renowned researcher and professor of the Centre for Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Basel, Dr. Natasa Cmiljanovic, a medicinal chemist and clinical scientist with experience in developing cancer medications, Dr. Thomas Ladner, a corporate lawyer, founder and co-founder of several successful start-ups and the World.Minds foundation, and André Debrunner, financial expert and fund manager with Northern Trust Switzerland AG.

About RocketVax AG

RocketVax AG is a Swiss biotech startup based in Basel, founded in summer 2020. RocketVax AG is a subsidiary of Swiss Rockets AG. The company is based on the relationship between Swiss Rockets AG, a Swiss incubator and accelerator for startups, Gigabases Switzerland AG, a spin-off of ETH Zurich, and a team of expert scientists from the University of Basel, the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, the University Hospital Basel and the Swiss Institute of Tropical and Public Health in Basel.

RocketVax AG uses proprietary molecular biology and chemical technology to develop novel vaccines. The chemical approach is based on the core technology of Gigabases. Leading Swiss experts in immunology and virology have joined forces to implement a novel development concept against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Kanton Basel-Stadt und Stadt Basel – Kurzmitteilungen aus der Regierungsrats-Sitzung (Bulletin)