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Altimmune Partners with University of Alabama to Develop Intranasal Coronavirus Vaccine

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 31 Mar 2020
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Image: Altimmune Partners with University of Alabama to develop intranasal coronavirus vaccine (Photo courtesy of University of Alabama)
Image: Altimmune Partners with University of Alabama to develop intranasal coronavirus vaccine (Photo courtesy of University of Alabama)
Altimmune, Inc. (Gaithersburg, MD, USA), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is collaborating with the University of Alabama (Birmingham, AL, USA) for the preclinical testing of a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease. The COVID-19 vaccine, called AdCOVID, is a single-dose vaccine candidate that is delivered by an intranasal spray. The testing at UAB will investigate immune responses to the vaccine in mice before Altimmune can launch a Phase 1 human safety and immunogenicity trial in patients in the third quarter of this year.

Altimmune is focused on developing treatments for liver disease, immune modulating therapies and vaccines. The company’s pipeline includes next generation peptide therapeutics for NASH (ALT-801) and chronic hepatitis B (HepTcell), conjugated immunostimulants for the treatment of cancer (ALT-702) and intranasal vaccines (NasoVAX and NasoShield). The new intranasal vaccine is based on the same platform vaccine technology as NasoVAX, the company’s influenza vaccine candidate. Like NasoVAX, the COVID-19 vaccine is designed to provide systemic immunity following a single intranasal dose. A recent Phase 2 clinical study with NasoVAX highlighted the ability of intranasal vaccine delivery to stimulate a durable and broad immune response against the influenza virus. Altimmune believes the clinical profile of NasoVAX is particularly relevant to COVID-19 because intranasal delivery directs the immune response where it is needed most to protect against respiratory infection, including the likely site of initial viral attack.

UAB also has extensive experience in conducting clinical studies of vaccines and has participated in studies sponsored by the Vaccine Evaluation and Trial Unit, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Six UAB labs will work together on this urgent collaboration with Altimmune. The company expects the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to activate mucosal and cellular immune responses, as well as a strong antibody response in the blood, as was found for its influenza vaccine candidate, which uses the same proprietary intranasal vaccine technology. If the AdCOVID vaccine candidate is as stable as Altimmune’s influenza and anthrax vaccines candidates, it could allow inexpensive and efficient distribution of the millions of doses needed for widespread vaccination of populations.

“With the spread of COVID-19 outside of China, including the first case of unknown origin in the US, we have taken action to develop and make our vaccine technology available to help address this crisis,” said Vipin K. Garg, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Altimmune. “We believe that our intranasal vaccine technology is especially well suited to provide systemic protection against respiratory infections that affect the upper and lower airways and can therefore be a useful tool in preventing further spread of COVID-19.”

“We are eager to collaborate with Altimmune on this important project," said Frances E. Lund, the Charles H. McCauley Professor and Chair for the UAB Department of Microbiology. “The expertise and infrastructure at UAB will be invaluable to the rapid progression of this vaccine into clinical studies.”.

Related Links:
Altimmune, Inc.
University of Alabama

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