Cambridge Covid-19 vaccine nudged closer to trials by £1.9m grant

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A coronavirus vaccine developed by Cambridge scientists could soon begin clinical trials - thanks to £1.9million of government funding.

The proposed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine would be given through the patient's skin using a device without any needles.

The vaccine would instead be delivered using a "simple jet of air", making it pain free.

If successful, researchers say it could be distributed at low cost across the world. 

Professor Jonathan Heeney, head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the University of Cambridge, and founder of DIOSynVax, said: "We're looking for chinks in its armour, crucial pieces of the virus that we can use to construct the vaccine to direct the immune response in the right direction."

"Ultimately we aim to make a vaccine that will not only protect from SARS-CoV-2, but also other related coronaviruses that may spill over from animals to humans."

Cambridge-developed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine receives £1.9million from UK government for clinical trial.

To develop their new vaccine candidate - DIOS-CoVax2 - the team used banks of genetic sequences of all known coronaviruses, including those from bats.

"Most research groups have used established approaches to vaccine development because of the urgent need to tackle the pandemic", Dr Rebecca Kinsley at the University of Cambridge said.

"We all hope the current clinical trials have a positive outcome, but even successful vaccines are likely to have their limitations - they may be unsuitable for vulnerable people, and we do not know how long their effects will last for, for example.

"Our approach - using synthetic DNA to deliver custom designed, immune selected vaccine antigens - is revolutionary and is ideal for complex viruses such as coronavirus. If successful, it will result in a vaccine that should be safe for widespread use and that can be manufactured and distributed at low cost."

The clinical trial could begin in the autumn.