Seattle Research institute for infectious diseases works with Houston Baylor College of Medicine Multiply the doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine by 30 to 100 times. Other partners are those based in Seattle PATH and Texas Children's Hospital Vaccine Development Center.
If the project goes as planned, Baylor and his partners could use a vaccine candidate that was originally developed to fight another coronavirus-based disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) to fight COVID-19.
The recombinant protein vaccine has been tested in preclinical studies against the SARS virus. However, since the SARS epidemic subsided in 2002-2003, the vaccine had no chance of entering clinical trials.
Baylor researchers are now suspecting that their nearly 200,000 doses of vaccine in stock may offer protection against COVID-19.
The vaccine candidate is designed to train the body's immune system to recognize a key element of the "spike protein" of the SARS coronavirus, which helps the virus penetrate cells. The virus behind COVID-19, known as SARS-CoV-2, has a similar protein.
The task of IDRI is to determine whether Ingredients known as adjuvants can be added to the vaccine to enhance its immunizing effects. If the adjuvants work, they could reduce the amount of vaccine needed per dose, said Corey Casper, CEO of IDRI.
"We have pioneered what is believed to be the largest collection of these adjuvant formulations that can be safely added to vaccines to increase their potency, potency and shelf life," Casper told GeekWire. "They really revolutionized vaccines."
Recently, adjuvants have given GlaxoSmithKline a boost Shingrix vaccine for shingles and a Variety of vaccine candidates against tuberculosisSaid Casper. Baylor and PATH hope that they will do the same for their coronavirus vaccine.
"If you only have 200,000 cans, that won't be enough to cover a large part of the population," said Casper. "But if you add an adjuvant to it and it increases the potency by 30 to a hundred times, you suddenly get a really significant number of vaccines that can be used very quickly."
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Even 20 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine would not be enough to immunize everyone. Casper and others involved in the COVID-19 suppression campaign, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, say several manufacturers have to make billions of cans. Other companies testing coronavirus vaccines include Moderna (which started its clinical trials in Seattle), Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca (in partnership with Oxford University).
If everything goes as Casper hopes, Baylor's vaccine could make a significant contribution to the cause. Vaccine production could possibly increase to meet the demand even more. But first, researchers need to check that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Baylor and the Texas Children's Vaccine Development Hospital plan to begin phase 1 trials of the vaccine in the fall. Researchers will recruit a relatively small number of healthy adults in Texas to test the vaccine's safety. If the vaccine is safe, more ambitious studies will be done.
"Our goal is to work with IDRI to quickly accommodate our vaccine candidates currently in the freezer and to produce clinical quality vaccine formulations to accelerate their clinical development and testing efforts," said Maria Elena Bottazzi, co-director of the Vaccine Development Center and Deputy Dean of the Baylor National School of Tropical Medicine, said in a press release today.
Another center co-director, Peter Hotez of Baylor, noted that IDRI was an employee of Previous vaccine Wording. "Similarly, we will accelerate our COVID-19 candidate and ensure that we have enough material to quickly assess its safety and effectiveness in the clinic," said Hotez.
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Casper said the project is playing out the strengths of its nonprofit institute in vaccine formulation and manufacture.
"What is really unique about IDRI is that there is very little access to vaccine manufacturing for small biotech companies (companies) and academics," he said. "It's a complicated process that normally only exists in large pharmaceutical companies. A few years ago IDRI set up a production facility here where we can produce vaccines that are suitable for clinical use on a smaller scale."
This is not the Institute's only project related to COVID-19. In April based in IDRI and New Jersey Circularity Won Won Clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to begin trials with experimental cell-based therapy for the disease.
"We now have several clinical trial sites that have been identified," said Casper.
One of the websites is hosted by MultiCare health system in Tacoma, Wash.
"There is still no data to share, but we are still very excited," said Casper. "This is a new opportunity for a therapeutic approach to COVID."