UK Scientists begin trials on new vaccine to battle against any covid-19 variants
London, Feb. 14, 2021 (AltAfrica)-UK scientists are developing a COVID vaccine with an in-built insurance against any mutations in the covid virus.
The jab, being developed at the University of Nottingham, should still be effective even if a new variant evolves that knocks out other vaccines.
The prototype has already passed pre-clinical tests and will start trials in volunteers within weeks.
Already, UK government has provided millions of pounds worth of funding to a phase one clinical trial platform, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
The funding has been awarded to expand the Agile clinical trial platform and will allow for the progress of cutting-edge treatments for Covid-19 through all three clinical trial phases in the UK – a streamlined process that is hoped to protect the supply chain.
Professor Lindy Durrant, an immunologist at the University and head of the spin-off company ScanCell, said the next generation of vaccines needs to be better prepared to tackle the virus as it “learns” to evade the immune system.
“What has happened was predictable,” she exclusively told Sky News.
“We have the advantage of learning from the inadequacies of the first generation of vaccines to make the second generation better.”
The three vaccines currently in use are all based on the genetic sequence of the spike protein, which the virus uses to latch onto human cells.
But mutations in the spike protein have emerged that have allowed new variants to spread rapidly in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. They may make existing vaccines less effective.
The Nottingham vaccine includes the spike protein, but also part of the “nucleocapsid” protein, a sheath that envelopes and protects the virus’s genetic material. It mutates at a much slower rate.
“It doubles the chances you win over the virus,” Professor Durrant said.
“The chances both will mutate at the same time is unlikely.”
Animal studies show the nucleocapsid protein triggers a strong T-cell response, a separate arm of the immune system to antibodies.
Professor Durrant said: “We are getting as good, if not better, antibody levels than other [vaccines], and more, and better T-cell responses.
“But that is in animals and we need to move into humans to see if it performs as well.”
The vaccine is due to start early-stage clinical trials later this spring, funded by Innovate UK.