For the first time in the world, a potential vaccine against the new coronavirus was able to generate antibodies capable of neutralizing SARS-Cov-2 in human cells. The Italian vaccine was shown to be effective in mice, and human trials will begin after the summer, according to the head of the laboratory that is conducting the research together with the Spallanzani virology institute in Rome.
“The results obtained to date are encouraging and far exceed expectations: after a single vaccine, the mice developed antibodies that can block Sars-CoV-2 virus infection in human cells, ” said Luigi Aurisicchio, CEO of the Takis Laboratory, a biotechnology company that has been researching genetic vaccines for years, a type of personalized medicine especially targeted at cancer patients.
The results obtained to date are encouraging and far exceed expectations.
The test was made possible by the experience of the Spallanzani Institute, the country’s leading virology centre, which, after isolating the virus, established a method to verify the efficacy of vaccines and molecules on the virus.
“Thanks to the powers of the Spallanzani Institute, as far as we know, we are the first in the world to have demonstrated the neutralization of the coronavirus through a vaccine. We hope that this will also happen in humans, ”said Aurisicchio, as reported by La Stampa newspaper.
“We had developed five candidate vaccines against the Sars-Cov-2 virus that in tests in mice showed strong immunogenicity, with a good antibody response,” he added. “The Spallanzani trial allowed us to identify the two that give the best response: It is not so much the number of antibodies, but the quality that can well neutralize the key region of the Spike protein, ”the harpoon that the virus uses to penetrate cells.
Takis’ potential vaccines contain only a fragment of DNA and are based on the Spike protein, using a technology called electroporation: injection into the muscle is followed by a very short electrical impulse that increases the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.
Takis’ research is the most advanced experimentation of a potential vaccine made in Italy, one of the countries most hit by the pandemic in the world.
Therefore, the company was confident that its vaccine “is tested in Italy and is available to everyone.” To do this, he noted, “we need the support of institutions and partners to help us accelerate the process: this is not a race and together we can win against the coronavirus.” The laboratory collaborates in development with LineaRx, a US company.
A hundred research papers are underway around the world to find a vaccine, the only possible way to return to “normal”, according to the UN.
Scientists in the United Kingdom, the United States and China have already started human testing.
On Thursday, the British pharmaceutical laboratory AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with the University of Oxford, according to which the pharmaceutical company will manufacture and distribute worldwide the vaccine against the new coronavirus in which the university is working.
For his part, President Donald Trump said Sunday that the United States will have a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year.
European leaders also supported a Brussels initiative to raise € 7.5 billion ($ 8.3 billion) to find a vaccine against the new coronavirus.