A team at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute has announced that it has signed a contract with Italian biomedical manufacturer Advent Srl to produce the first batch of vaccines for preventing novel coronavirus.
The Jenner Institute, affiliated with the University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine and in collaboration with the Pirbright Institute, is devoted to vaccine research and development.
It has been taking the same approach with its current trials of a vaccine for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, another coronavirus.
According to the University’s News Office, ‘seed stock’ for the new vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is currently being manufactured at the University’s Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Headington, and will be transferred to Advent upon completion. The contract specifies that Advent will produce 1000 doses for the first clinical trials.
Advent Srl is a subsidiary of IRBM, an Italian company specializing in molecular biotechnology, biomedical sciences, and organic chemistry. Previously it has developed a variety of vaccines, including the Italian anti-Ebola vaccine.
Its Science Park is located in Pomezia. Dr. Piero Di Lorenzo, President and CEO of Advent and IRBM, said that they are “thrilled to be working with the Jenner Institute on this critical project that has great significance for the international community due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Once again the IRBM group is at the forefront of R&D”.
The research team at the Jenner Institute is being led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, whose research focuses on immunology. She has also been involved in projects related to MERS, Zika, Nipah virus and Lassa fever.
Professor Gilbert told Oxford University’s News Office that: “Novel pathogens such as nCoV-19 require rapid vaccine development. By using technology that is known to work well for another coronavirus vaccine we are able to reduce the time taken to prepare for clinical trials. Advent are working with us to move as rapidly as possible.”
The development of this novel coronavirus vaccine will make use of a safe version of an adenovirus, which can cause a minor cold-like illness but has been modified to prevent reproduction in the body.
Furthermore, genetic codes for making the coronavirus Spike protein has been added to allow for production of antibodies, which stops infections by binding with viruses.
As of Tuesday, the novel coronavirus has caused more than 1000 deaths, the vast majority of which were in mainland China.
There have been 8 confirmed cases in the UK, and the Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
The Oxford Mail reports that prisoners at a detention facility in Oxfordshire are currently being tested for coronavirus due to one prisoner having recently been in Thailand and exhibiting symptoms.
Cherwell has reached out to IRBM, the Jenner Institute, and Professor Gilbert for comments.
The outbreak of coronavirus in China has forced Oxford undergraduates to return to Britain from their year abroad. The majority of Oxford students, who had been in China on their year abroad, have now returned to the UK.
Students, all of whom study at university in China rather than gaining employment, have had their studies suspended.Term was supposed to begin on Monday 17th February, but this original date has been postponed until further notice.
With the Chinese universities closed indefinitely, Oxford University is setting up classes for second-year Chinese students, so that the interruption to their education is limited.
In the latest update on the website, the University said: “We ask that students and staff support their fellow friends and colleagues at this difficult time. Harassment and discrimination of any kind, including racial harassment, are totally unacceptable at the University.”