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New vaccine against coronavirus passes tests in mice

During the past months, a Danish team of researchers led by Professor Ali Salanti have worked relentlessly to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. The researchers, supported by the Carlsberg Foundation, among others, have now tested the vaccine on mice with promising results. They hope to be able to start clinical trials in humans before the end of the year.

The results have been achieved by a group of researchers from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen. Since the worldwide spread of SARS-CoV-2, they have been working relentlessly to develop a vaccine against the corona virus. The Carlsberg Foundation has supported this work by awarding a Semper Ardens grant of DKK 25 million in March 2020.

Read more about the grant

The researchers have now reached an important milestone in the development of a vaccine against the highly contagious virus. For the past two months they have tested the virus on mice and the results are highly promising.

“Our vaccine has been tested on mice and we have seen a highly promising immune response, which is a very important step. It is crucial that we can show such positive results, which means that we can proceed according to plan. Had we not been able to achieve this, we could not proceed”, states Professor Ali Salanti.

”Ali Salanti and his team of researchers have achieved impressive results during the past few months, since they started developing vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The excellent test results on mice are promising for large scale vaccine production and thereby for contributing to fighting the corona virus in the long term”, states Professor Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation.

Mice produced large quantities of antibodies after being vaccinated

The research team has developed its own vaccine technology for the work. The technology is called cVLP, which stands for “capsid Virus Like Particle”. By this method, the researchers attach so-called corona virus antigens to the cVLP. The body's immune system will then react strongly to the antigens producing antibodies and thus hopefully inducing immunity.

This result has now been achieved in mice. After being vaccinated, they produced high quantities of antibodies, which can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The quantity and quality of these vaccine induced antibodies are tested directly on SARS-CoV-2 virus in laboratories under the supervision of Professor Søren Riis Paludan, who is also part of the Semper Ardens project.

Immune response hundred times stronger

According to the researchers it is important to be able to produce a high volume of vaccine doses, preferably as cheaply as possible. Existing data shows that millions of doses can be produced in relatively small bioreactors. The immune response itself is several hundred times stronger than a vaccination with antigens without the cVLP. Furthermore, according to the researchers the blood in mice has a capacity to neutralize virus significantly better compared to the trials of the potential COVID-19 vaccines published by other researchers.

The researchers are working on the vaccine together with the consortium Prevent-nCov and are also part of this consortium. In addition to the Semper Ardens grants, the consortium has received a grant of DKK 20 million from EU’s research programme Horizon 2020.




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