A New Coronavirus Vaccine Wants to Take on More Variants Than Moderna and Pfizer

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Coronavirus Vaccine Wants to Take on More Variants Than Moderna and Pfizer
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

A Culver City-based biotech company is testing COVID vaccinations it hopes will be effective against more contagious variants that have emerged from South Africa, California, Brazil and the U.K.


ImmunityBio — which is slated to merge with El Segundo-based therapeutics company NantKwest on Tuesday — announced that vaccine trial participants in the U.S. and South Africa have received their first dose of the vaccine.

The company is one of several locally that are developing new vaccinations, and comes as the Biden administration promises there will be enough doses to vaccinate Americans by May.

ImmunityBio's vaccine candidate known as hAd5 can be administered via injection or orally. It is still in early testing and has not yet undergone the Food and Drug Administration approval process The drug targets two viral proteins — the spike (S) protein, which allows the virus to enter humans' cells, and the nucleocapsid (N) protein. By targeting both, ImmunityBio and NantKwest hope the vaccine will be more effective for long-term immunity.

"Current COVID-19 vaccines only target the S protein, the primary source of virus mutations," said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, executive chairman of ImmunityBio and NantKwest in an announcement. "These mutations may render existing vaccines less effective, so we have designed our vaccine differently and are driving T cells to both S and N."

Most coronavirus vaccines target the spike protein, and Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have become less effective due to a mutation in this variant. But the nucleocapsid protein "looks" more similar to the nucleocapsid protein in other strains of the coronavirus, meaning vaccines targeting it might be able to go up against more variants.

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This Week in 'Raises': Regard Secures $15M, MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in 'Raises': Regard Secures $15M, MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Second Fund
Image by Joshua Letona

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Braid Theory's Plan to Foster the Next Generation of Ocean Tech Startups

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Braid Theory's Plan to Foster the Next Generation of Ocean Tech Startups
Photo courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles.

San Pedro-based Braid Theory is one of the growing number of accelerators in the country looking to grow the so-called blue economy, which spans a range of ocean-related industries and is estimated at $2.5 trillion a year.

The accelerator is accepting online applications until July 18, with its second-ever program kicking off in August.

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https://twitter.com/KeerthiVedantam
keerthi@dot.la

JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers on Navigating the Economic Downturn

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

John Chambers

On this episode of Office Hours, host Spencer Rascoff joined John Chambers, founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, to discuss how executives should approach the shifting economy. The recording was held at this year's Montgomery Summit, an annual gathering of over 1,000 senior-level investors, thought leaders and technology executives in Santa Monica.

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