Experts from Nottingham’s two universities have teamed up to adapt a cancer treatment for use in the fight against Covid-19.
They are collaborating with Scancell Holdings, a developer of novel immunotherapies for cancer, to move the project forward.
Virologists at the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Research on Global Virus Infections have identified parts of the novel coronavirus they hope will generate an immune response that will prevent future infection.
This information is being used by Scancell to design DNA-based vaccines to allow easy and effective delivery of the virus vaccine into humans to produce virus-killing antibodies and cells.
The project builds on Scancell’s success with its lead ImmunoBody cancer vaccine to treat patients suffering from malignant melanoma.
Although other vaccines may have reached the clinic earlier, the team believe that the combined T cell and antibody approach will give more potent and long-lasting responses, ultimately leading to better protection.
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19, and the novel DNA vaccine will target two virus proteins which then enables the virus to gain entry into a cell.
The surface protein is the natural target for virus-killing antibodies, which prevent the virus from entering the cell.
Dr Gillies O’Bryan-Tear, Chief Medical Officer of Scancell, said: “We have already tested it on animals, and we are moving into human trials as soon as possible this year.
“This is a great example of an industry academic collaboration and great UK science.”
Graham Pockley, Professor of Immunobiology at Nottingham Trent University’s John van Geest Cancer Research Centre, said: “Nottingham Trent University and the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre are delighted to support Scancell’s endeavours to develop an effective vaccine for COVID-19.
“This exciting research programme highlights the capabilities and skills that are available in Nottingham and the value of collaborative working, not only between universities, but also with commercial partners.”
By Olimpia Zagnat