Bharat Biotech ties up with US varsity for Covid vaccine
Potential vaccine from Thomas Jefferson University has finished preliminary trials
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).
A doctor takes a swab sample of a Dharavi resident, in Mumbai, on Wednesday.