Coronavirus Background

Coronaviruses represent a family of viruses named based on their crown-like appearance seen by electron microscopy and classified by unique features of their chemistry and replication. Coronaviruses are the pathogenic agents for different illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In December 2019, a new coronavirus was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that originated in China, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic. COVID-19 is highly infectious primarily transmitted through direct contact with an infected person via droplets from sneezing or coughing.

There is an urgent need to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. LifeSensors is not new to such events. In 2002-2005, during the SARS outbreak, LifeSensors worked closely with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and developed most of the tools for the first SARS-CoV. LifeSensors pioneered the development of SUMO-fusion technology to improve the quality and quantities of recombinant proteins (Strickler et al. 2011). Using this technology, we expressed all the SARS-CoV proteins for developing antibodies and assays. Our data on SARS-CoV was published 15 years ago (Zuo et al. 2005).

We are proud to contribute our knowledge and expertise to build a new platform for SARS-CoV-2 on the foundation of SARS-CoV. Production of biologically active proteins is the first step towards development of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and research tools for better insights into SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. Proteins from SARS are approximately 96% homologous to those of the current strain of SARS-CoV-2, indicating an incredible starting point for researchers to develop diagnostic tests and therapeutic strategies that the world greatly needs. We have applied our SUMO system to express and purify all SARS-CoV-2 proteins, particularly for use in vaccine, therapeutic target, and POC diagnostic applications.

Production of recombinant viral proteins by LifeSensors proprietary SUMO-fusion technology is vital for research, diagnostics, SARS therapeutic drug discovery, and vaccine development. LifeSensors’ technology is contributing to the following COVID-19 research and development:

  • Developing sensitive, specific, and rapid clinical diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2
  • Developing antibodies against viral proteins to identify epitopes critical for binding neutralization
  • Developing SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic targets, including broad-spectrum therapeutics against multiple coronavirus strains
  • Creating tools to evaluate innate, cellular, and humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or candidate vaccines
  • Developing SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates that include emerging antigen design strategies, novel platforms or delivery approaches, adjuvants, or assessing cross-neutralization potential of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates