BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB and Altimmune, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced positive results from the preclinical studies of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The vaccine candidate, AdCOVID, was tested as an intranasal spray in mice. UAB researchers found a mouse immune response in the blood strong enough to neutralize the COVID-19 virus, as well as a potent immune response in the respiratory tract. That’s the site where the COVID-19 virus first infects.
Altimmune, a Maryland-based company, plans to start its first Phase 1 safety and immunity tests of the AdCOVID vaccine candidate in humans later this year.
The vaccine candidate creates an immune response against the COVID-19 virus spike protein that helps the virus bind to a human cell to start infection.
Frances Lund, Ph.D., the chair of UAB Microbiology and lead investigator for preclinical testing of the AdCOVID vaccine candidates, said, “The potent stimulation of mucosal immunity in the respiratory tract may be crucial to effectively block infection and transmission of the virus, given that the nasal cavity is a key point of entry and replication for the virus.”
The Altimmune–UAB collaboration was announced March 30, and Lund made that work the highest priority for a large UAB team of researchers. “The goal,” she said in March, “is to get the data to Altimmune as rapidly as possible, so they will use the information gained from the preclinical study to design their clinical trial in people.”
“I’m very proud to be a member of the team of approximately 25 dedicated researchers from six different UAB laboratories who came together in the middle of this pandemic to generate, in less than 4 months, all of the infrastructure, reagents and data that will be used to design human clinical trials with the Altimmune vaccine,” Lund said. “We are very much looking forward to our continued partnership with Altimmune to test this exciting vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections.”
Intranasal dosing means the vaccine could be administered rapidly and without the need for needles, syringes or trained healthcare personnel.