Scientists at Imperial College London are partnering with AstraZeneca to develop a new vaccine technology – originally targeted at COVID-19 – aimed at treating cancer, heart conditions and other non-communicable diseases and ailments. Will have to do
The vaccine platform works by delivering genetic material called self-amplifying RNA to human cells, which are then trained to recognize and respond to infection.
Professor Robin Shattock, an immunologist at Imperial, used this technique to design a COVID-19 jab at the start of the pandemic. However, due to the success of the UK-wide vaccination programme, it never progressed beyond a phase two clinical trial.
Now, AstraZeneca has entered into a “long-term” collaboration with Professor Shattock’s team and intends to further develop the technology to treat conditions and diseases beyond Covid.
“We have clinical data which is good for technology but needs to be improved,” explained Professor Shattock Granthshala. “AstraZeneca wants to take our approach and advance it. They see the potential of the platform.”
For COVID-19, the Imperial vaccine was originally coded for the spike protein structure found on the surface of Sars-CoV-2. Once injected, it prompts the immune system to produce the necessary antibodies and T cells, leaving behind a strong layer of protection against COVID-19.
However, the platform is unique in that it uses self-amplifying RNA, which not only encodes the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein, but also makes copies of itself once injected into humans, Which generates more of the original message.
“It’s like having a photocopier,” said Prof Shattock. “After amplification, you have thousands of these plans which are then passed on.”
It is hoped that the same chain of events can be used to teach the body to recognize other foreign threats or internal malfunctions, such as cancer, and then neutralize them through trained immunological cells. Is.
Prof Shtock said his team, along with experts from AstraZeneca, will work to apply the self-amplifying RNA to a variety of disease areas.
“Beyond infectious disease, there is a possibility to look at protein replacement therapy, oncology, cardiology — it will be a broad spectrum,” he said.
“We’re going after multiple goals. Some may be low-hanging fruit and be pushed into the clinch more aggressively, while others will require more work. It’s hard to predict which goals are home runs.” will give.”
He said there were no plans for human trials at this stage, with an immediate focus on first customizing the vaccine platform in the laboratory and determining whether it would be successful in treating cancer or heart disease. “We haven’t set a timeline for getting back to the clinic,” Prof Shattock said.
The agreement with AstraZeneca will support the Imperial team with research and development funding for 26 different drug targets.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /