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New COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Uses Existing Deactivated Rabies Vaccine as Vehicle for Coronavirus Proteins

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 21 May 2020
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Image: New COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Uses Existing Deactivated Rabies Vaccine as Vehicle for Coronavirus Proteins (Photo courtesy of Thomas Jefferson University)
Image: New COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Uses Existing Deactivated Rabies Vaccine as Vehicle for Coronavirus Proteins (Photo courtesy of Thomas Jefferson University)
Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA, USA) has signed an exclusive deal with vaccine innovator Bharat Biotech International (Hyderabad, India) to develop a new vaccine candidate for COVID-19 invented at Jefferson.

Under the license agreement, Bharat Biotech gains exclusive rights to develop, market and deliver Jefferson’s vaccine across the world excluding countries such as US, Europe, Japan etc., where Jefferson continues to seek partners. With support from the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, Bharat Biotech aims to get into human trials as soon as December 2020.

Of the 90 or so coronavirus vaccines in development, about 25% use an established vaccine to act as a “carrier” or vector for the target virus, in this case, the coronavirus SARS-COV-2 spike protein. Not every vaccine produces the same level of the immune response. The vector used in this new vaccine is a deactivated rabies vaccine that is known to generate a rigorous but safe immune reaction that confers life-long protection, and has been proven safe for all populations, including children and pregnant women. The vaccine developed in January this year recently completed preliminary tests in animal models and showed a strong antibody response in mice receiving the vaccine. The researchers are currently testing whether vaccinated animals are protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection with results expected in June.

“We are leveraging the properties of a very effective vaccine – one that provides life-long immunity against one of the biggest global threats of our time,” said Dr. Mark Tykocinski MD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of Thomas Jefferson University, and Dean of its Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “Rather than go with an untested approach, we have a leg-up by using a vaccine that is safe, effective, and exceptionally good at creating a strong immune response – which is something not every vaccine can do.”

“Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development,” said Infectious Diseases expert Professor Matthias Schnell who directs The Jefferson Vaccine Institute and chairs Jefferson’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “We will be able to complete animal testing and move to phase 1 clinical trial rapidly.”

“In view of the imminent demand for an effective vaccine, Bharat Biotech is pleased to collaborate with Thomas Jefferson, USA towards developing a new vaccine for COVID-19 using an inactivated rabies vector platform,” said Dr. Krishna Mohan, Chief Executive Officer of Bharat Biotech. “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 is committed to global public health and will be involved in an end to end development of the vaccine including comprehensive clinical trials to achieve commercial licensure.”

Related Links:
Thomas Jefferson University
Bharat Biotech International



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