Hyderabad-based pharma firm Bharat Biotech, which is developing coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN, has signed a licensing deal with Washington University School of Medicine in Missouri's St. Louis, United States, for a "novel chimp-adenovirus", single dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19. Bharat Biotech would be allowed to distribute the vaccine in all markets except USA, Japan and Europe.
Phase-I trials for the vaccine will take place in Saint Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation unit. After getting the mandatory regulatory approval, Bharat Biotech will carry out further stages of clinical trials in India and undertake large scale manufacture of the vaccine at its GMP facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.
"We are proud to collaborate on this innovative vaccine. We envision that we will scale this vaccine to 1 billion doses, translating to 1 billion individuals vaccinated receiving a single-dose regimen. An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles and syringes., significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive," said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech, in a statement.
This intranasal vaccine candidate is claimed to have shown unprecedented levels of protection in mice studies. The technology and data have been recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Cell and in an editorial in Nature.
Dr David T Curiel, who is director of Biologic Therapeutics Center and Professor of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said, "The ability to accomplish effective immunization with a single nasal dose is a major advantage, offering broader reach and easier administration. An effective nasal dose not only protects against COVID-19, but it also prevents the spread of the disease by offering another kind of immunity that occurs primarily in the cells that line the nose and throat. Most other vaccine candidates currently under development can't do that."
Bharat Biotech is involved with a portfolio of vaccines that are currently being developed and are in various stages of clinical development including COVAXIN which is currently in Phase II human clinical trials in India.
Dr David T.Curiel is also interim CEO of Precision Virologics that is a vaccine company developing advanced generation adenoviral vaccines. Precision's lead agent is a potency enhanced simian adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine delivered via the nasal route.