The novel vaccine was developed using an existing deactivated rabies vaccine as a vehicle for coronavirus proteins, said the Hyderabad headquartered vaccine maker.
The vector used in this new COVID-19 vaccine under accelerated development program is a deactivated rabies vaccine that is known to produce a strong immune response and is approved for the whole population including children and pregnant women, it said.
In January this year, infectious diseases expert Professor Matthias Schnell’s lab developed the vaccine, and has recently completed preliminary tests in animal models. According to Bharat Bio, the vaccine showed a strong antibody response in mice receiving the vaccine, and the researchers are currently testing whether vaccinated animals are protected from SARS-CoV-2 infection with results expected in the next month.
“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,” saysProf. Schnell.
Bharat Biotech gains exclusive rights to develop, market and deliver Jefferson’s vaccine under the agreement across the world excluding countries such as USA, Europe and Japan, where Jefferson continues to seek partners. With support from India’s Department of Biotechnology, Bharat Biotech aims to get into human trials as soon as December 2020.
“Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development,” said Prof Schnell, a coronavirus expert 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-I clinical trial rapidly.”
Bharat Biotech chef executive Dr Krishna Mohan said, “Bharat Biotech is pleased to collaborate with Thomas Jefferson, USA towards developing a new vaccine for COVID-19 using an inactivated rabies vector platform. We are particularly excited about this technology since the basic proof of concept has been established while using it for other pandemic infectious diseases.”