COVID-19 Nasal Vaccine – Based on technology developed at Washington University in St. Louis. Louis – Available in the US, Europe and Japan. The university has awarded the rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize its proprietary COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., Europe and Japan to Ocugen Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing novel genetic and Cell therapy and vaccines.
The nasal vaccine is thought to offer better protection against the virus than the current injectable vaccine, which helps prevent serious illness and death, but does little to prevent infection, especially as the highly contagious new variant continues case of dissemination. The advantage of the nasal vaccine is that it boosts immunity to the virus entering the body’s nose and upper respiratory tract, potentially preventing infection completely.
Ocugen intends to work closely with U.S. government agencies responsible for pandemic preparedness and response to initiate clinical trials and manufacture an intranasal vaccine. The company is also interested in the potential of the nasal vaccine to be a universal booster, regardless of a person’s previous COVID-19 vaccination history.
“Despite the many challenges posed by the global pandemic, our accomplished and dedicated faculty continue to push the boundaries of discovery,” said Dr. Dedric Carter, UW Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Commercialization Officer. “Licensing of Nasal Vaccine Technology Highlights the culture of innovation we have developed at the University of Washington. The extraordinary efforts of all our faculty in research innovation are aimed at translating insights from the lab into improving the health and lives of people in our community and around the globe.”
The UW nasal vaccine technology was previously licensed to Bharat Biotech International Limited in 2020 for development in India and limited areas of the world. In September, Indian health authorities approved the vaccine for emergency use in the country, making it the world’s first approved intranasal COVID-19 vaccine.
The investigational nasal vaccine was co-developed by University of Washington scientists David T. Curiel, MD, Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology, and Michael S. Diamond, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine, Molecular Microbiology and Pathology and Immunology, and members of their labs . They started working together in early 2020 as the virus that causes COVID-19 first began to spread like wildfire across the globe.
Curiel has long been working on gene therapy for cancer and other diseases using harmless, inactivated cold viruses called adenoviruses. Diamond, an expert on viruses and infectious diseases, was already studying the virus that causes COVID-19 in his lab and obtained samples from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the early weeks of the pandemic. Curiel and Diamond have teamed up to create and test their adenovirus-based nasal vaccine for COVID-19.
“In recent months, we’ve seen COVID-19 continue to spread — despite the high levels of vaccination that have been achieved in the U.S., Europe and Japan,” Diamond said. “Because the vaccine can go directly into the nose, it is specifically designed to stop the virus from entering the entryway for infection, and we believe it may help prevent transmission and provide protection against new COVID-19 variants.”
Their earlier research at the University of Washington showed that nasal administration of the vaccine produced a strong immune response throughout the body, especially in the nose and respiratory tract. In animal studies, the nasal vaccine completely prevented infection in the nose and lungs — suggesting that vaccinated people were able to ward off the virus before it could multiply and cause infection.
“Another advantage of the nasal vaccine is that it doesn’t require needles,” Curiel said. “Many people who are reluctant to get the shot are willing to inhale the vaccine. This vaccine can also be used to boost immunity in people who have been vaccinated before with any other vaccine. I think this could be important for reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection and reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S. and around the world. Continued efforts to spread have been very helpful.”
Dr. Shankar Musunuri, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Ocugen, added: “Washington University’s COVID-19 nasal vaccine technology has been shown to induce robust mucosal immunity and has the potential to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection, transmission and Emergence of new viruses. Variants. As efforts to end the pandemic focus on effective booster options, Ocugen is excited about the potential for this vaccine to be a universal booster, regardless of prior COVID-19 vaccination history. We look forward to Work with regulators in the U.S., Europe and Japan to accelerate development.”