The idea of a nasal COVID-19 vaccine was already in the pipeline, but this time, French scientists have actually filed a patent application for a candidate vaccine. The vaccine will be administered through the nose and can block the infection in its first stages.
According to the French National Institute for Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Research (INRAE), pre-clinical tests on mice and golden hamsters with this vaccine, which is based on viral proteins encapsulated in nanoparticles made of starch and lipids, have yielded “very positive” results. Still, the results of this research have not yet been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.
According to INRAE and the University of Tours, the added value of this vaccine is that it can stop the spread of infection between humans by directly acting on the nasal mucosa. “Unlike intramuscular vaccines, only nasal vaccines can prevent the virus from entering the nose, which is the initial stage of infection. They stimulate immunity in the nasal mucosa, where the virus enters and multiplies,” the researchers explained in a press release.
Promising results in animals
Studies have shown that the vaccine stops the spread of infection very early. “I work with infected animals: after two days, I see that the virus spreads to the lungs. If I do the same with vaccinated and infected animals, I do not find any traces of the virus in the lungs,” explains Isabelle Dimier-Poisson, head of the BioMAP research team.
Could be used as a Booster for previously vaccinated people
This non-adjuvanted vaccine, developed by French scientists and industrialists, could also be used as a booster vaccine in people who have already been vaccinated to prevent the transmission of the disease. According to the scientist, BioMAP has managed to achieve a 100% survival rate in mice vaccinated and subsequently infected with Covid-19, compared with a 100% mortality rate in unvaccinated mice.
The work of the BioMap team at INRAE and the University of Tours is based on a nanoparticle vaccine that was initially developed against toxoplasmosis and had shown a “100% efficacy in primates”.
The research team expects to start the manufacturing phase this autumn and the clinical phase in the second half of 2022. “Technically, the vaccine will be administered using a small adapter placed at the end of a needleless syringe to allow it to be injected into the nasal cavity,” says INRAE.
A COVID-19 vaccine delivered through the nose and that can stop the infection at the entry point would be a game-changer. Let’s hope that the French team succeeds so that we can all move on with our lives and forget this nightmare that has turned the world upside down for the past two years.
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