A vaccine candidate for COVID-19 is showing promising results in preclinical trials at UAB, according to a statement from drugmaker altimmune, of Gaithersburg, MD. From the statement about a drug called AdCOVID:
A single-dose, intranasal vaccine candidate is designed to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. By utilizing the company’s proprietary intranasal vaccine technology, it is expected that AdCOVID has the potential to activate multiple arms of the immune system as shown in a recent Phase 2 clinical study with NasoVAX, an influenza vaccine candidate based on the same platform technology. That study showed potent stimulation of mucosal and cellular immune responses in addition to a strong serum antibody response.
In addition, our platform vaccines (NasoVAX and NasoShield) have shown an excellent stability profile and, when combined with the simple intranasal route of administration, may allow for efficient and inexpensive distribution of the vaccine.
A report from wbrc.com in Birmingham provides more details, noting the studies involve 25 researchers from UAB:
UAB and Altimmune, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced positive results from the preclinical studies of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The vaccine candidate, AdCOVID, was tested as an intranasal spray in mice. UAB researchers found a mouse immune response in the blood strong enough to neutralize the COVID-19 virus, as well as a potent immune response in the respiratory tract. That’s the site where the COVID-19 virus first infects.
Altimmune, a Maryland-based company, plans to start its first Phase 1 safety and immunity tests of the AdCOVID vaccine candidate in humans later this year.
The vaccine candidate creates an immune response against the COVID-19 virus spike protein that helps the virus bind to a human cell to start infection.
Frances Lund, Ph.D., the chair of UAB Microbiology and lead investigator for preclinical testing of the AdCOVID vaccine candidates, said, “The potent stimulation of mucosal immunity in the respiratory tract may be crucial to effectively block infection and transmission of the virus, given that the nasal cavity is a key point of entry and replication for the virus.”
The Altimmune–UAB collaboration was announced March 30, and Lund made that work the highest priority for a large UAB team of researchers. “The goal,” she said in March, “is to get the data to Altimmune as rapidly as possible, so they will use the information gained from the preclinical study to design their clinical trial in people.”
“I’m very proud to be a member of the team of approximately 25 dedicated researchers from six different UAB laboratories who came together in the middle of this pandemic to generate, in less than 4 months, all of the infrastructure, reagents and data that will be used to design human clinical trials with the Altimmune vaccine,” Lund said. “We are very much looking forward to our continued partnership with Altimmune to test this exciting vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections.”
Here is a particularly attractive trait for AdCOVID:
Intranasal dosing means the vaccine could be administered rapidly and without the need for needles, syringes or trained healthcare personnel.