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March 4, 2021
PHOTO CREDITS: HEALTH NEWS REVIEW
An experimental dual vaccine for both influenza and the new Coronavirus delivered via a nasal spray will enter human studies in Hong Kong next month, a top disease doctor said.
“The early stage clinical trial will enroll about 100 adults”, said Yuen Kwok-Yung, chair of infectious disease in the University of Hong-Kong’s department of microbiology (Bloomberg). The candidate vaccine is similar to a nasal spray flu immunization already on the market that’s designed to start working where respiratory viruses typically enter the body.
“Our idea is that we want both influenza and Covid-19 protection at the same time,” Yuen said in an interview (Bangkok Post). The dual flu Covid-19 vaccine is based on a temperature-adapted, weakened, and replication-deficient flu virus that only grows in the upper airway. It’s developer used genetic engineering to remove the virus’s NS1 protein, thus changing the DNA structure, and inserting the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein of the SARS-COV-2 virus. Yuen said, “And then we showed very well that it works in animals” (Bangkok Post) This is being co-developed by researchers at Xiamen University and the University of Hong Kong, as well as by Vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co.
Besides potentially protecting against two viruses at once, the approach aims to stimulate an immune response by the body through memory cells: mainly B and T lymphocytes which produce antibodies – proteins (gamma globulin) that recognize foreign antigens at the site of the mucus membrane in the nose. Research by scientists at Imperial College, London published in the journal Science Friday indicates a strong mucosal Immune response is important for helping people stave off respiratory infections. “I do think that a mucosal vaccine is a great idea,” Yuen said (BGR). A Chinese manufacturer will make the experimental vaccine for the phase-1 study starting next month, he said. The trial will seek to demonstrate its safety as well as the optimal dose. Results are anticipated a few months later.
ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA
SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH