A timeline of responses from researchers, biotechnology companies and funding bodies in a global effort to develop, test and distribute a vaccine for COVID-19 as quickly and safely as possible.
INOVIO DNA vaccine starts human trials in South Korea
INOVIO, funded by CEPI, is due to start their 2-stage trial of INO-4800 – a vaccine developed for use against COVID-19 – in South Korea by the end of June. The trial includes 40 healthy adults aged 19-50 years and will soon enroll a further 120 people in the age bracket of 19-64 years to assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the INO-4800 DNA vaccine.
“The trial is a crucial step in the development of an urgently needed COVID-19 vaccine. South Korea is one of the first countries in the world set to test a COVID-19 vaccine (after the USA, China, UK and Germany) and we are happy to collaborate with South Korean partners to accelerate clinical development of a COVID-19 vaccine through our partnership with INOVIO and CEPI,” stated Jerome Kim, Director General of IVI.
For more information on the ongoing trial, see here >>>
DNA vaccine shows protective effects against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaque model
A research team involving scientists from Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA) have developed a rhesus macaque model of SARS-CoV-2 infection on which to test a series of DNA vaccine candidates. They used neutralizing antibody titres as an immune correlate of protection. The experiments showed an effective level of vaccine protection and further work will be conducted to expedite a human vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2. Read the full research article published in Science.
MERS-CoV RNA vaccine in development for SARS-CoV-2 use
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (Sejong, South Korea) have been working together with the Catholic University of Korea (Seoul, South Korea) on an RNA-based vaccine developed for use against MERS-CoV (of the coronavirus family), including testing on non-human primates. The vaccine stabilizes the spike protein on the surface of the virus and enables a stronger immune response. This vaccine platform is expected to be used in the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. More information on this nanformulated RNA-based adjuvant can be found in Angewandte Chemie.
Pfizer and BioNTech launch Phase I/II clinical trial for mRNA vaccines
Pfizer, in collaboration with BioNTech, announces the start of a Phase I/II clinical trial to test four of their mRNA vaccines. The New York University Grossman School of Medicine (NY, USA) and the University of Maryland (MD, USA) are the first centers to enroll patients for the trial in the USA. One or two doses of the vaccines or a placebo will be administered to the healthy patients. Two of the vaccines contain viral RNA that encodes for spike proteins and two contain receptor-binding domains.
For more information on this vaccine trial, see here >>>
DNA-based nanoparticle vaccine can be inhaled directly into the lungs
A research team at Penn State University (PA, USA) led by Scott Medina of the Medina Group have been working on a DNA-based nanoparticle aerosol vaccine that can be used to tackle SARS-CoV-2. The inhalable vaccine would be able to enter the lung and the nanoparticles would target respiratory immune cells, which stimulate the transported DNA to produce viral proteins. This technology was originally developed for a universal influenza vaccine and is now being refocused to help with the current COVID-19 vaccine effort.
For more information on this inhalable vaccine, see here.
CEPI encourages global collaboration on INO-4800 vaccine
CEPI has granted funding to INOVIO to encourage collaboration with Korea National Institute of Health (Osong, Republic of Korea) and The International Vaccine Institute (IVI; Seoul, South Korea) to conduct a parallel Phase I/II trial of the INO-4800 DNA vaccine in South Korea. By increasing testing, researchers are hoping to have a better idea of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine so that they can scale up processes ready for further clinical trials and GMP manufacturing.
See more on this here >>>
Nasal delivery for DNA vaccine
Researchers from the University of Waterloo (ON, Canada) have developed a concept for a vaccine that can be delivered via a nasal spray. The vaccine is DNA-based, loaded with an engineered bacteriophage that targets specific cells in the respiratory tract. By administering as a nasal spray, the vaccine can be delivered directly to target tissues in the lower respiratory tract. Once the vaccine enters these cells, it will incite the production of a virus-like particle that is similar to SARS-CoV-2, which stimulates an immune response in humans. The particle will also bind to similar receptors as SARS-CoV-2 and therefore block the virus. Further testing is required to perfect the design and you can read more on this here >>>
Nanostructured peptide-delivery vehicle for COVID-19 treatment
Northwestern University (MA, USA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA, USA) have come together to take antiviral peptides that bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and adhere them to a nanodelivery platform, ensuring their stability in the body. The collaboration could mean vaccines and therapeutic techniques can be elucidated much faster in the future.
Read the full article here >>>
Pfizer collaborates with BioNTech in COVID-19 vaccine program
BioNTech (Mainz, Germany), a biotechnology company that focuses on the use of DNA for precision therapeutics has developed a vaccine – BNT162 – that could be used against COVID-19. The vaccine contains a form of mRNA encapsulated in a lipid nanoparticle and could trigger an antibody response on binding with SARS-CoV-2. Now, Pfizer (NY, USA), has joined with BioNTech to drive development of the vaccine and have announced they expect to start clinical Phase I/II trials in April 2020. For more information see here >>>
Novavax identifies coronavirus vaccine candidate
Vaccine development company, Novavax (MD, USA) have set into motion a nanoparticle-technology based vaccine – NVX-CoV2373 – for starting Phase I trials in the middle of May 2020. The vaccine produces a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and antibodies that block the binding sites of the coronavirus, as demonstrated in animal models. A particular point of interest about this vaccine is the microneutralization titers, which are high after one dose and increases eight fold with the second dose, showing that the vaccine has high immunogenic properties and suggests good protective effects in humans.
For further information visit the Novavax page here >>>
INOVIO initiates Phase I clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine
As one of the first vaccine candidates to be selected by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI; Oslo, Norway), the INOVIO (PA, USA) DNA vaccine – INO-4800 – has entered a Phase I clinical trial and doses the first patients. The DNA vaccine has thus far showed promise in multiple animal trials, with a good immune response, and the vaccine can now be tested in the first 40 human volunteers. The hope is to move the vaccine through trial phases successfully and scale up manufacturing ready for emergency use.
See more from INOVIO here >>>
PittCoVacc microneedle array vaccine delivery
The University of Pittsburgh (PA, USA) are working on repurposing vaccine technology used in the Zika virus epidemic and previous coronavirus outbreaks for use against COVID-19. Their vaccine, termed PittCoVacc, contains nanosized pieces of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that is administered using a microneedle array to induce an immune reaction.
To read the full news article see our sister site, Infectious Diseases Hub here >>>
Moderna vaccine trial continues
The mRNA vaccine developed by Moderna – mRNA-1273 – is undergoing a Phase I trial in the USA and the first patients have now been dosed.
Take a look at the full news release and a timeline of response from Moderna here >>>
Initial collation of vaccine trials and therapeutics
In March of this year, a specialized division, the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS; Columbus, OH, USA), of the American Chemical Society issued a special report in ACS Central Science in which they summarized the current published information on therapeutics and vaccines undergoing testing for use against COVID-19. One candidate, a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine, was patented in 2015 by Novavax (MD, USA), initially for use against MERS-CoV. It contained a least one trimer of the spike protein characteristic of coronaviruses and was shown to incite a neutralizing antibody response in mice.
The team from CAS also highlighted a mRNA-1273 vaccine developed by Moderna (Cambridge, MA, USA), which was undergoing a Phase I study in the USA.
For more information on this study, see the full news release here >>>
For further updates regarding vaccines and therapeutics visit our dedicated COVID-19 Hub here >>>