Inrae and the University of Tours presented on Thursday the promising results of a study on animals suggesting that a nasal vaccine would be effective in protecting serious forms, but also infections.
Conclusions which give hope, if studies on humans are positive, that this vaccine, easy to use, could be a powerful weapon in the fight against Covid-19.
However, this nasal vaccine would not arrive on the market until 2023.
One more innovation?
Or a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus?
Difficult, in this area, to distinguish between what will count in the future and what is hypothetical.
The National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Inrae) and the University of Tours unveiled this Thursday a project that could prove interesting in the future: a nasal vaccine that could protect against Sars-COV-2 infection.
A vaccine in the nose
It should be noted first of all that the studies presented this afternoon were carried out only on animals - mice and then hamsters - and that they have not yet been the subject of a publication.
The fact remains that "the preclinical results on animal models are very encouraging", introduces Philippe Mauguin, CEO of Inrae.
It does not mean that it is won!
We do not underestimate all the steps that remain to be taken.
But if we succeeded, we would have, in the next two years, a French vaccine that would present originalities in terms of efficacy and administration.
In fact, it is a vaccine that can be administered into the nose, with two instillations three weeks apart.
"I often hear the term" nasal spray ", but that's not it, explains Isabelle Dimier-Poisson
university professor, head of the BioMAP Inrae-University of Tours research team, in charge of the vaccine development project.
The instillation system will be based on a syringe, but instead of adding a needle, install a tip with the desired amount of product.
»A plus for people who fear injections.
In addition, the serum does not use any adjuvant, an additional argument to convince some recalcitrant people.
To a very simple use is added practical storage: "It can be stored for several years at 4 ° C and several months at 20 ° C", continues the researcher.
It would protect from infection
Second advantage: this vaccine candidate would make it possible, if clinical studies on humans are also conclusive, to protect against serious forms of the coronavirus, even with the Delta variant.
But above all to avoid any infection, therefore contagiousness.
Which would change the situation.
#RP_INRAE Positive pre-clinical results for a # COVID19 #vaccine by nasal route with @UnivTours
▶ ️neutralizes the virus on entry
▶ ️blocks contagiousness
▶ ️effective against
Photos @ B_NICOLAS_INRAE pic.twitter.com/zulVSvpqsu
- INRAE (@INRAE_France) September 9, 2021
During the study, the mice that were not vaccinated died 100%, those vaccinated had 100% survival, associated with a complete absence of clinical signs. More interesting: "We infected hamsters after this vaccine, then looked for the virus in their lungs and their nasal passages," continues the researcher. For the vaccinated batch, two days after vaccination, there is no detection of the viral load. This confirms that this vaccine would be able to protect against severe forms, but also to stop transmission. "
“All of the vaccines marketed today are for intramuscular injection,” recalls Isabelle Dimier-Poisson.
They induce a systemic immune response.
With a vaccine in the nose, it is the mucous membranes that produce antibodies and tell the other mucous membranes to protect themselves against the virus.
The interest has not escaped the notice of multiple teams of researchers: currently, seven nasal vaccines are being developed around the world.
Commercialization hoped for in 2023
The specificity of it is that it would be a 100% French vaccine. Developed over the past year thanks to a partnership between Inrae and the University of Tours, which has already positioned itself to pilot clinical trials, the team has already identified a number of partners, all from France, to go as far as commercialization. The patent has just been filed, a start-up is being set up.
There remains a shadow on the board: timing. Because, as we can imagine, with a vaccine candidate that has never been tested on humans, there are still many steps to take before it reaches our noses. The research team imagines, in the fall of 2021, a phase of development and production of batches of vaccine, a clinical phase in the second half of 2022 and hopes for commercialization by 2023. “There may be the possibility that this vaccine sees the light of day earlier, suggests Philippe Mauguin, CEO of Inrae. We are in an emergency. "
But what is the point of obtaining a nasal vaccine in 2023… when 73% of the French population is fully vaccinated today?
“Our vaccine could participate in recall campaigns, which will be expanded,” assures Isabelle Dumier-Poisson.
Or perhaps for populations that do not have access to the vaccine today, those under 12.
As for the population a little hesitant in the face of the bite.
Finally, many countries have little or no access to the vaccine.
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