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Oral COVID vaccine shows promising immune response in Duke studies


A Duke study published in May, led by Stephanie Langer, a medical instructor in the surgical department. Discover the potential of a new oral COVID-19 vaccine.. Langer’s study studies vaccines using hamsters under conditions that mimic human exposure, and that the vaccine has the ability to enhance mucosal immunity, protect individuals from infection, and limit airborne transmission within the community. Is shown.

The research team and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the study, were interested in the possibility of translating the pill-based vaccine platform to reach low-resource areas.

“Compared to mRNA vaccines that require cold chain storage and physical training personnel to administer the vaccine, pill-based vaccines can be shipped by mail and taken home. This makes it easier to access overall, “says Langel. ..

While intramuscularly administered mRNA vaccines are valuable in reducing illness and death during a pandemic, mucosal vaccines such as this oral vaccine may enhance the immune response to the emergence of new variants. ..

“From a pandemic, viral infections have probably played a major role in the rate of spread of SARS-CoV-2 and how it continues to spread. I think mucosal vaccines need to be part of our strategy in the future. We continue to consider boosting the immune response in the event of new variants, and hope that those strategies will not only protect individuals, but also prevent the spread of the community, “Lange said. ..

The vaccine was originally developed by Vaxart, an American biotechnology company.

According to Langer, the pill-based vaccine stimulates the immune response of the intestine, allowing antibody-secreting cells to migrate to the upper respiratory tract. Antibodies differ in the blood and upper respiratory tract. One type, immunoglobulin G (IGG), is found primarily in the blood, but immunoglobulin A (IGA) is abundant in the upper respiratory tract.

According to Langer, IGA is more stable on the mucosal surface than IGG, so vaccines targeting the mucosal surface, such as this oral vaccine, are potentially more effective than the existing intramuscular COVID-19 vaccine. May result in the production of various antibodies. ..

Using hamsters to test the efficacy of the virus, researchers administered high doses of the virus to model breakthrough infections.

The hamster was placed in a 3-chamber transmission box system. Vaccinated SARS-CoV-2 infected hamsters were placed in the left chamber, and uninfected and unvaccinated naive hamsters were placed in the opposite right chamber. The center chamber connected the two groups.

Without the physical interaction between the two groups, Langer was interested in whether aerial transmission of the virus would occur.

The oral vaccine prompted the animal’s body to produce antibodies against the peplomer on the surface of SARS-CoV-2.What are these spike proteins Allows the virus to bind to the ACE2 receptor It is found in epithelial cells and infects them.

“If we can generate antibodies that block ACE2 receptor binding, we can reduce infection,” Langer said.

The results of this study suggested that oral and intranasal immunity reduced hamster disease and infection. However, Langer says he was surprised that the transmission was not completely eliminated.

To see a higher reduction in permeability, she is looking to future changes in her design.

“For example, you can find out how different dose levels of the virus affect the level of infection,” she said.

Langer’s research faces a number of challenges associated with the rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic, including the emergence of new viral variants.

“The biggest challenge was for the virus to mutate faster than the experiments. We funded this work in late 2020 and ran these experiments over the next six months,” Langel said. Says. “What we have learned about mucosal vaccination is that we can reduce infections, but because it is what we used, we can only talk about the original Wuhan, wild-type strains. ”

Langer hopes to continue transmission experiments with Omicron variants later this year or later next year.

Amy Gun
| Health and Science News Editor

Amy Guan is Pratt Jr., Volume 118 of The Chronicle, and a news editor for health and science.




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