The intradermal needle-free injection system may boost vaccination uptake in individuals with a fear of needles
UK researchers are trialling an innovative, needle-free vaccine candidate called DIOS-CoVax that may offer protection against emerging severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants and other coronaviruses likely to cause future pandemics.
The vaccine candidate is based on the University of Cambridge’s DIOSvax technology. It will be administered using the Tropis® (PharmaJet) intradermal, needle-free injection system, which could potentially boost vaccination uptake in individuals with a fear of needles. Upon successful completion of clinical trials, DIOS-CoVax could be scaled up and manufactured as a powder to strengthen global vaccination efforts.
Current COVID-19 vaccines utilise the spike protein RNA sequence derived from the wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus, first identified in January 2020. Constant mutations in the spike protein over time increase the risk of ‘vaccine escape’ among SARS-CoV-2 variants. The DIOSvax technology uses predictive methods to identify and encode newer antigens that are common across coronaviruses, thereby offering broader protection.
Professor Jonathan Heeney from the University of Cambridge, who is leading the research, stated: ‘Our vaccine is innovative, both in terms of the way it primes the immune system to respond with a broader protective response to coronaviruses, and how it is delivered. Crucially, it is the first step towards a universal coronavirus vaccine we are developing, protecting us not just from COVID-19 variants but from future coronaviruses.’
The phase-1 trial being conducted at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Southampton Clinical Research Facility (CRF) will recruit healthy volunteers aged 18–50 years in the Southampton area, who have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine but not a booster. The volunteers will be followed up for approximately 12 months to ascertain the vaccine’s safety.
Saul Faust, Clinical Chief Investigator and Director of the NIHR Southampton CRF, added: ‘This isn’t simply “yet another” coronavirus vaccine, as it has both COVID-19 variants and future coronaviruses in its sights. This technology could give wide-ranging protection to huge numbers of people worldwide.’
DIOS-CoVax is being developed by the University of Cambridge and the spin-out company DIOSynVax, with funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.
This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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