IISc-Bengaluru preparing booster shot that works for any COVID-19 vaccine
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru may soon develop a coronavirus booster shot that can be given to any vaccinated person, the top research institute says. The jab has already cleared animal studies and is currently being manufactured as part of preparation for phase one trials, which are expected to commence by the beginning of next year, reported ThePrint.
"We are developing it as a two-dose vaccine but by the time it is rolled out, people will obviously have a reasonable amount of background immunity. So even one shot might give a significant boost to the immune response," said Dr. Gautham Nadig, the executive director of Mynvax. Mynvax is a start-up under the IISc's Society for Innovation and Development.
"It has the potential to work as a booster shot irrespective of the character of the vaccines administered earlier," Dr. Nadig said. He added the shot can be easily updated for variants in a matter of a few months. "We have also tested sera from immunized mice and found that neutralization titers for the emerging Alpha, Beta, Delta, etc., variants are quite substantial (sic)."
"We estimate that at least 100 million doses will be required to meet India's requirement if the SARS-CoV-2 infection persists for the medium to long-term," the vaccine developers said, according to the information available on the IISc website.
The IISc vaccine contains about 200 amino acids of the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the novel coronavirus. It has already been tested on animals like mice, hamsters, among others. Further, the jab is heat tolerant, implying that it does not require cold chain storage. "In fact, it is stable at 37 degree Celsius for over a few weeks," claimed Dr. Nadig.
"It can be made into a powder and we have tested this form by heating the antigen upto 100 degree Celsius and found that it still retains its activity," Dr. Nadig further said, according to ThePrint.
Mynvax is now holding discussions with a manufacturer for the production of the vaccine, hoping to start phase one human trials in next six to seven months. The firm has sought around Rs. 30 crore in financial assistance from the Indian government's Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Half of that amount will go toward safety and toxicity studies and the other half toward clinical trials.