It’s been almost two years that scientists around the world have invented and developed a vaccine against COVID-19. It is the main weapon in the fight against the pandemic that has killed nearly 5 million people around the world. Even now, there are several types of coronavirus vaccines available and mass production. But since this war against the plague is not over yet Weapon development must continue.
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Thai scientists at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotech), which is part of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), are among a team of scientists around the world who have not stopped researching. To develop a vaccine that will protect people’s lives from this deadly virus. The latest project to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 Their nasal sprays are making progress and yielding satisfactory results. until many people believe that it may be “New hope” and a vaccine to come. “A game changer in the COVID-19 vaccine market”
Dr. Anan Chongkaewwatana, virologist Director of Biotech Animal Health and Management Innovation Research Group who is the head of the research and development team for the COVID-19 vaccine The nasal spray describes The respiratory tract is where the virus enters the body. Vaccination by nasal spray produces antibodies in the airways. causing the infection to be unable to enter the body
Vaccines against COVID-19 How does the nasal spray work? At what stage has it developed? And it will be a new hope to protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19. how much BBC Thai collects interesting information about the spray vaccine from the head of the vaccine development team.
Dr Anan said the injectable vaccine is not popular and no global data on its effect is available. This may be partly because the medical community is familiar with intramuscular vaccines because of their ease of use and long-term use. In the past, the United States has developed a nasal spray flu vaccine. Currently in Phase 2 development for the COVID-19 vaccine. that nasal spray As far as I know, I haven’t seen anyone use it.
“We developed a nasal spray vaccine from the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. already in Thailand The NSTDA research team specializes in the exploitation of viral vectors. So we thought that using the nasal spray method. It should answer the problem of epidemics related to the respiratory tract,” said Dr. Anan.
“We have seen that intramuscular (vaccination) injections still have the potential for respiratory infections. Because the immunity that occurs from the injection into the muscle, it does not reach the nasal cavity. So we started to think that if the nasal spray vaccine was developed at the same time as the intramuscular injection. and the results can be compared We will be able to implement this innovation if necessary.”
Biotech’s research team chose two viruses, the common cold virus, Adenovirus, and the Influenza virus, which has the ability to enter the human body through the nasal passages and modify it to be incapable of causing viral infections. disease and relying on the properties of these two viruses to carry the protein of COVID-19 Enter the body to allow the body to “know” COVID-19 and build immunity.
“It is the closest simulation of a natural infection. This causes the body to make antibodies to prevent the virus from entering the body,” explains Dr. Anan.
The nasal spray causes the body to respond by producing antibodies in the nasal cavity or upper airway. This causes a large number of antibodies to be produced in the path from the nose to the lungs. which intramuscular vaccines cannot or cannot reach
“These antibodies are waiting in the nose or upper airway. ready to trap the virus from entering the cells…preventing the pathogen from entering the body…preventing the problem from the root cause.”
When preventing infections in the upper respiratory tract The viral load will be reduced. Especially the delta virus that multiplies rapidly in the upper respiratory tract. When the virus increases in small numbers, it spreads less. and the severity of the disease is reduced
results of animal experiments
The research team divided the rats into two groups, one of which was vaccinated via nasal spray. Another group received the vaccine intramuscularly. The results clearly show that nasal spray produces more antibodies in the lungs than intramuscular injections. And when testing for antibodies in the blood, it was also found to be high.
This means that both injectable and intramuscular vaccines produce the same antibodies. The difference is that the nasal spray vaccine causes the production of antibodies in the upper respiratory tract. This will act to prevent the infection from entering the body.
when vaccinated The research team took the virus that causes COVID-19. Drops into the nose of both groups of rats showed that the rats who received the nasal spray vaccine were not sick at all. But the rats who received the intramuscular vaccine had some sickness. Weight loss, but not death
The similarities and differences between the nasal spray and the intramuscular vaccine.
The nasal spray vaccine allows memory cells in the airways to recognize the virus and produce antibodies in a few days, while intramuscular vaccines cannot.
How long the immunity from the injectable vaccine lasts is unknown. But it is expected to last about 3-6 months as with the injectable vaccine. and if re-stimulated by vaccination or natural infection Immunity will be stimulated back up again.
Another difference is that injectable vaccines produce a single antibody, called IgG, that stops the pathogen from entering cells. But the nasal spray vaccine produces two types of antibodies, IgG and IgA, which Dr Anan said are “rare” antibodies and that occur on the mucous membranes.
“We cannot induce IgA through intramuscular injections. IgA can only be found through nasal vaccination or by spontaneous infection. When IgA is produced, the defense mechanisms that prevent the infection from entering the body will increase even more,” said Dr. Anan.
This is because the nasal spray uses the influenza virus as a carrier protein for the virus that causes COVID-19. It can prevent influenza infection as well. That means the spray vaccine is the vaccine against influenza and COVID-19. with at the same time
efficacy in preventing mutation
Dr. Anan explains that the mutation can be prevented in two ways. The first method is to re-inject the same infection to stimulate the immune system. When the immune system is high, it can prevent the virus from entering the body. No matter what species or what kind of mutated virus.
The second approach is to make the new vaccine specific to the mutant virus, which most researchers now consider the delta virus to be a suitable model for a vaccine against the mutant. Although new mutants will emerge in the future, the delta vaccine is believed to provide the body with immunity that can protect against the mutated virus.
“Therefore, in the development of new vaccines We have to find ways to boost and sustain our immunity for years. I see vaccination through the nose as one of the ways to make the immune system last longer. Because we humans get various viruses through the nasal cavity all the time. which encourages the body to build immunity all the time which does not require re-vaccination,” said Dr. Anan.
Registration with the FDA
Biotech’s nasal spray vaccine is in the process of obtaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires consideration of a number of information, especially safety information. Now, the Biotech research team has taken the results of 30-40 lab rats that concluded that all rats vaccinated by the nose showed no signs of illness. This is a procedure for obtaining approval for use in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
After this, the research team will collect the data for another 3-4 months and send it to the FDA to determine if the available data is sufficient to proceed with human testing.
Open nasal spray vaccine trials in humans
Dr Anan said the nasal spray vaccine is intended to be used as an immunization or booster vaccine. according to plan The volunteers who will be participating in the trial must have been vaccinated for some time and their immunity has decreased. and then received the nasal spray vaccine. To test how much this vaccine can stimulate immunity.
“Phase 1 (human) trials will last 1-2 months, with the first month recruiting volunteers, and after 2-3 weeks, data can be collected as a booster vaccine. If there are many volunteers We can then combine the experiments in phases 1 and 2. shorten the time And that may take only 3-4 months to collect information and submit to the FDA for approval of use.”
Who will be the producer
After being registered by the FDA, the next question is who will be the manufacturer?
Dr. Anan mentions Kingen Biotech Co., Ltd. and the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) as potential candidates for the production of nasal spray vaccines. This applies to biotech as well, while the district office has a large factory that can produce vaccines.
“GAO has expertise in the production of influenza vaccines, and GAO has greatly contributed to the production of the inoculum with the highest level of cleanliness by both Kingen Biotech Co. and PAO. Each of them has the potential and large factories to produce enough vaccines for the Thai people,” said the head of the biotech research team.
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