Early tests of a potential COVID-19 vaccine have shown promising results against the deadly virus, Queensland researchers say.
In preclinical tests, the University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine has shown it can raise high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.
The university’s project co-leader Professor Paul Young said the results were an excellent indication the vaccine worked as expected.
“This is what we were hoping for, and it’s a great relief for the team given the tremendous faith placed in our technology by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation), federal and Queensland governments and our philanthropic partners,” Prof Young said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We were particularly pleased that the strength of the antibody response was even better than those observed in samples from COVID-19 recovered patients.”
Professor Kanta Subbarao of the Doherty Institute, which is working with UQ, tested the vaccine samples in the laboratory.
“This is a very important finding because similar immune responses with SARS vaccines in animal models were shown to lead to protection from infection,” Prof Subbarao said.
Dutch company Viroclinics Xplore is also collaborating on the vaccine tests.
Joint UQ project leader Dr Keith Chappell said the team had decided early on that ensuring a robust package of pre-clinical and safety data was critical before initiating a clinical trial.
“Viroclinics Xplore is investigating in more detail the vaccine’s ability to protect from direct challenge by the live virus in multiple animal models, and without this partnership this just wouldn’t have been possible in this time frame with the capabilities we have here in Australia,” Dr Chappell said.
The group recently announced a collaboration with Cytiva – formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences – to enable key manufacturing activities.
Other commercial partners include Lonza, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Syneos Health, while CSL/Seqirus, Dynavax and GSK have provided access to key technology.
“When you start combining clinical readiness with scale-up manufacturing, the costs quickly escalate and our primary goal here was to try and break down the financial constraints as much as we could,” program director Professor Trent Munro said.
The final results from pre-clinical tests are hoped to be in by early June before clinical trials can start.