Scientists at Oxford’s Jenner Institute are currently working on a project to produce the first batch of a coronavirus vaccine for clinical testing. The project is in partnership with Italian manufacturer Advent Srl.
The World Health Organisation had previously warned that a vaccine could take 18 months to put together. The current outbreak looks likely to extend well into the autumn.
There are hopes that the Jenner Institute research will help reduce the time taken to prepare it for clinical trials.
Professor Sarah Gilbert of the Jenner Institute said: “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 University’s Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility is currently producing the vaccine’s ‘seed stock’. After being transferred to Advent, it will produce 1000 doses for the first set of clinical trials for the vaccine.
In addition to working on the current vaccine, the Jenner Institute has been working on a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus. Due to the initial success of the MERS vaccine, the same approach to creating the vaccine is being used for the novel coronavirus vaccine.
Advent, the contract manufacturing organization and part of the IRBM group working with the Jenner Institute said on their website that: “The vaccines are produced using a safe version of an adenovirus; another virus that can cause a common cold-like illness.
“The adenovirus has been modified so that it cannot reproduce within the body, and the genetic code to provide instructions for making the coronavirus Spike protein has been added, enabling the adenovirus to produce this protein after vaccination. That results in the formation of antibodies to the Spike protein, which is found on the surface of coronaviruses.
“In someone who has been vaccinated, antibodies to the Spike can bind to the coronavirus and stop it from causing an infection.”