DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by University of Waterloo
DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate : Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada are developing a DNA-based vaccine candidate which can be given via nasal route to protect from novel coronavirus.
The vaccine will be formulated to work on tissues in the nasal cavity and lower respiratory tract which will enable it to replicate within bacteria present in the body by using bacteriophage-based approach.
The aim is to deliver the vaccine to the cells in the targeted tissues and activate the production of a virus-like particle (VLP) that induces an immune response.
The produced virus-like particle is harmless and looks similar to the SARS-CoV-2 structure. It can stimulate the natural immune response in the body against viral infections including the novel coronavirus, as per the scientists.
The virus-like particle will attach to the receptors that the coronavirus would bind to, thus limiting the potential sites for transmission. The DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate is also expected to reduce the severity of progressing infections through these changes in the body. This shows that the product can work as a vaccine and also as a therapeutic, as per the researchers.
Roderick Slavcev – University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy professor, commenting on the DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, said: “When complete, our DNA-based vaccine will be administered non-invasively as a nasal spray that delivers nanomedicine engineered to immunise and decrease Covid-19 infections.
“This research combines the expertise of many and leverages existing technology developed by my team, which we’re reconfiguring for a Covid-19 application.”
Roderick Slavcev partnered with another School of Pharmacy professor Emmanuel Ho and a chemical engineering professor Marc Aucoin to design the DNA-based coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Emmanuel Ho is leading the team to design the nanomedication, delivered by the nasal spray, the testing process for which is going on.
On the other hand, Marc Aucoin’s lab is constructing and purifying the virus-like particle and working to improve the immunity after the initial administration of the DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Roderick Slavcev’s research team is said to have finished the design of the bacteriophage delivery system and is now modifying it for Covid-19 application. Further design and testing will be done later this year.
The research components are being supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada grant.