Bharat Biotech ties up with US var­sity for Covid vac­cine

Po­ten­tial vac­cine from Thomas Jef­fer­son Univer­sity has fin­ished pre­lim­i­nary tri­als

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - San­chita Sharma let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Bharat Biotech has part­nered with the US-based Thomas Jef­fer­son Univer­sity (TJU) to de­velop its ex­per­i­men­tal vac­cine Co­ravax against Covid-19 un­der the ac­cel­er­ated devel­op­ment pro­gramme.

This is the third vac­cine can­di­date that the Hy­der­abad-based vac­cine ma­jor is work­ing on us­ing two dif­fer­ent plat­forms.

One uses the nasal flu back­bone to de­liver Sars-CoV2 ge­netic ma­te­rial to pro­duce an im­mune re­sponse, while two use the de­ac­ti­vated ra­bies vac­cine as a vec­tor.

The new vi­ral-vec­tor vac­cine can­di­date, which was de­vel­oped by TJU re­searchers in Jan­uary, has re­cently com­pleted pre­lim­i­nary tri­als in an­i­mal mod­els that show a strong an­ti­body re­sponse in vac­ci­nated mice. The data on whether it pro­tects vac­ci­nated an­i­mals against Sars-CoV-2 is ex­pected next month.

The vac­cine uses a proven de­ac­ti­vated ra­bies vac­cine as a car­rier for the ge­netic code of the

Sars-CoV-2 spike pro­tein, which the virus uses to en­ter hu­man cells and cause in­fec­tion.

The ra­bies vac­cine has been shown to gen­er­ate a rig­or­ous but safe im­mune re­ac­tion that con­fers life­long pro­tec­tion. “Since we know the im­mune sys­tem re­acts to the ra­bies vac­cine with a strong re­sponse, when we add the coro­n­avirus com­po­nent, we ex­pect to see that level of pro­tec­tion and im­mune mem­ory carry over to the Sars-CoV-2 vi­ral pro­tein as well,” said Matthias

Sch­nell, di­rec­tor of Jef­fer­son Vac­cine Cen­ter in Philadel­phia.

Bharat Biotech is the world’s largest sup­plier of ra­bies vac­cines and the ra­bies car­rier vac­cine be­ing used is ap­proved for use in the whole pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing chil­dren and preg­nant women.

“We are par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about this tech­nol­ogy since the ba­sic proof of con­cept has been es­tab­lished while us­ing it for other pan­demic in­fec­tious dis­eases. Bharat Biotech will be in­volved in an end-to-end devel­op­ment of the vac­cine, in­clud­ing com­pre­hen­sive clin­i­cal tri­als to achieve com­mer­cial li­cen­sure,” said Dr Kr­ishna Mo­han, CEO, Bharat Biotech.

With sup­port from the Depart­ment of Biotech­nol­ogy un­der the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, the com­pany plans to be­gin hu­man tri­als by December 2020.

Global ef­forts to de­velop a vac­cine against Covid-19 are pro­ceed­ing at an un­prece­dented pace and scale, with com­pa­nies us­ing es­tab­lished plat­forms and par­al­lel vac­cine devel­op­ment phases to fast-track it. Vac­cine devel­op­ment, from lab to mar­ket, on av­er­age takes a decade.

“Most vac­cine devel­op­ment fo­cuses on iden­ti­fy­ing the ge­netic code of the spike pro­tein that Sars-CoV-2 uses to en­ter hu­man cells, which is then used in the vac­cine to trig­ger an im­mune re­sponse against sub­se­quent ex­po­sure in peo­ple who are vac­ci­nated. The Bharat Biotech pro­ject is mov­ing very fast,” said Dr NK Gan­guly, for­mer di­rec­tor gen­eral, In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR).

PRATIK CHORGE/HT PHOTO

A doc­tor takes a swab sam­ple of a Dhar­avi res­i­dent, in Mumbai, on Wed­nes­day.

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