A team from the University of Washington School of Medicine reported the progress of their vaccine candidate after trialling it on mice. They claim their jab gave a stronger boost to immunity than that seen in recovered coronavirus patients, and helps the body develop a strong memory cell response for antibody production. It comes as the UK reported 18,950 cases and 136 new deaths from the virus yesterday, and as the country heads into a second lockdown on Thursday.
The Washington University team have also touted their vaccine as not needing freezer storage, which makes it easier to produce and ship worldwide, and published their report in the scenic magazine Cell.
Dr Neil King, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the medicine school, has praised the progress of the experimental candidate.
He said: “We hope that our nanoparticle platform may help fight this pandemic that is causing so much damage to our world.
“The potency, stability, and manufacturability of this vaccine candidate differentiate it from many others under investigation.”
The vaccine uses nanoparticles, which mimic the structure of a virus and can be naturally occurring or synthetically made.
Nanoparticles are of similar size to virus, which makes it easier for them to mould to the virus’ receptors therefore preventing infection.
Washington University’s candidate has shown 60 copies of COVID-19’s receptor binding domain, which is what allows it to bind human cells inside the body.
To trial the effects, the team used the nanoparticle vaccine on mice to discover whether they developed an immune response through the process describer.
Mice trials showed the team their jab produced ten times more antibodies than in standard recovery, even when the dosage was five-times lower than normal.
They detailed in Cell immunisation also results in a potent B cell response, which latch on the surface of pathogens and target them for other immune cells.
In addition to mice, they also administrated the vaccine to a pigtail macaque, a nonhuman primate, which also saw antibodies produced.
But the team acknowledge human trials are needed to confirm the efficacy of their vaccine candidate.
Local news outlet KIRO 7 reported the Washington University vaccine is being licensed out to two biotech firms for mass-manufatcuring.
Clinical trials are also expected to begin by the end of the year in the US.
Co-lead author Dr David Veesler, a UW associate professor of biochemistry, said he was “delighted” the research “led to the design of this promising vaccine candidate”.
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It comes after the UK’s own Oxford University and AstraZeneca candidate has shown an immune response developed in all age groups.
An AstraZeneca spokesman reported last week phase two trials showed an immune response as well as lower adverse responses among the elderly, in a huge boost to Britain’s vaccine hopes.
The spokesman said: “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher.
“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222.”
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