Melbourne-made COVID-19 vaccines have shown robust potential in boosting immunity to SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to the interim results of a Phase 1 clinical trial. The two vaccine candidates, developed by researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS), demonstrated strong boosting capabilities in a highly immune population. These vaccines also exhibited a wide range of immune responses, including against omicron sub-variants. Importantly, no safety concerns were identified with either candidate.
What sets these Melbourne-made vaccines apart from most existing vaccines is their focus on the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The RBD plays a crucial role in the virus’s ability to enter and infect cells in the body and elicits over 90 percent of neutralizing antibodies. This unique approach of targeting the RBD could potentially provide a more efficient strategy for boosting immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
Professor Terry Nolan, Head of the Vaccine and Immunization Research Group at the Doherty Institute, expressed exceptional satisfaction with the interim results of the Phase 1 clinical trial. He emphasized that the two vaccines, by focusing on the RBD, could avoid immune responses against other parts of the spike protein. This targeted approach presents a strong case for advancing to Phase 2 clinical trials.
Professor Colin Pouton of MIPS, who led the development of the RBD mRNA vaccine, also highlighted the vaccine’s strong immune response, even at the lowest tested dose. Preclinical and clinical studies have consistently shown the RBD mRNA vaccine to provide a robust immune boost, suggesting its potential for an annual multivalent vaccine to protect against emerging variants of COVID-19.
The development of more effective COVID-19 variant vaccines remains a crucial goal in reducing death rates and improving efficacy, especially among older and vulnerable patients. The mRNA vaccine being developed by the Melbourne researchers also shows promise in addressing the issue of immune imprinting, an important consideration for a next-generation vaccine.
The positive results from the Phase 1 clinical trial have paved the way for further development and progression of these Melbourne-made vaccines. The research team is actively exploring options for advancing to Phase 2 trials. If successful, these vaccines could play a vital role in boosting immunity and providing protection against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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