The US has developed a nasal spray vaccine against COVID-19: how it works
Candidate COVID-19 Nasal Vaccine Effective in Preventing Disease Transmission, reports SciTechDaily.
The nasal vaccine induces airway immunity.
Inhale, exhale. This is how easily SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can enter your nose. Although notable progress has been made in the development of intramuscular vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, such as the readily available vaccines Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, so far nothing like the nasal vaccine has been approved to provide immunity to the nasal mucosa - the first barrier against the virus before it enters the lungs.
But now we are one step closer to that.
Navin Varadarajan, Anderson M.D., professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston, and his colleagues report to iScience about the development of an intranasal subunit vaccine that provides sustained local immunity against inhaled pathogens.
“Vaccination of mucous membranes can stimulate both systemic and mucosal immunity and has the advantage of being a non-invasive procedure suitable for immunizing large populations,” Varadarajan said. "However, mucosal vaccination is hampered by the lack of effective antigen delivery and the need for appropriate adjuvants that can stimulate a sustained immune response without toxicity."
To address these issues, Waradarajan partnered with Xinli Liu, assistant professor of pharmacy at UH College of Pharmacy and nanoparticle delivery expert. Liu's group succeeded in encapsulating an interferon gene stimulator agonist (STING) into liposomal particles to produce an adjuvant called NanoSTING. The function of an adjuvant is to stimulate the body's immune response.
“Our results show that the candidate vaccine formulation is safe, elicits rapid immune responses within seven days, and provides full immunity against SARS-CoV-2,” - said Navin Varadarajan, lead author of the study.
“NanoSTING has a small particle size of about 100 nanometers, which exhibits physical and chemical properties that are significantly different from conventional adjuvants,” Liu said.
“We used NanoSTING as an adjuvant for intranasal vaccination and single cell RNA sequencing to confirm that nasal-associated lymphoid tissue is an induction site after vaccination. Our results show that the candidate vaccine formulation is safe, induces rapid immune responses - within seven days - and induces complete immunity against SARS-CoV-2, ”Varadarajan said.
“Equitable distribution requires stable vaccines that can be easily delivered,” noted Varadarajan, co-founder of AuraVax Therapeutics Inc.
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A fundamental limitation of intramuscular vaccines is that they are not intended to induce mucosal immunity. As previous work with other respiratory pathogens such as influenza has shown, decontaminating immunity to viral re-infection requires adaptive immune responses in the airways and lungs.
According to the researchers, the nasal vaccine will also facilitate widespread distribution of the vaccines around the world. It is estimated that first-world countries have already secured and vaccinated multiple intramuscular doses for every citizen, while billions of people in countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil with major outbreaks are not currently vaccinated. These outbreaks and spread of the virus are known to contribute to the evolution of the virus, resulting in reduced efficacy for all vaccines.
“Broad distribution requires stable vaccines that can be easily delivered. As we have shown, each of our components, protein (lyophilized) and adjuvant (NanoSTING) are stable for over 11 months and can be stored and transported without the need for freezing, ”said Varadarajan.
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Varadarajan is co-founder of AuraVax Therapeutics Inc., a pioneering biotech company developing new intranasal vaccines and therapies to help patients fight debilitating diseases, including COVID-19. The company has an exclusive licensing agreement with UH for intellectual property covering intranasal vaccines and STING agonist technologies. They have begun the manufacturing process and are planning to bring the FDA into action later this year.
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