On Friday, the vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech announced that an intranasal vaccine for Coronavirus, ‘CoroFlu’ is under development.
Bharat Biotech and the virologists at the vaccine company FluGen and at the University of Wisconsin–Madison collaborated for the development and testing of CoroFlu.
FluGen’s vaccine candidate M2SR will act as the backbone for developing CoroFlu.
M2SR is a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu, invented by FluGen co-founders Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Gabriele Neumann and UW–Madison virologists.
Kawaoka’s lab is planning to insert M2SR with the genetic sequences from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 so that the new vaccine can induce an immune response against COVID-19 also.
Bharat Biotech will develop the vaccine, carry out the clinical trials and manufacture 300 million doses of the vaccine for global distribution.
To produce the vaccine for clinical trials and scale up the production, FluGen will transfer its existing manufacturing processes to Bharat Biotech under the collaboration agreement.
16 vaccines have been commercialized by Bharat Biotech till now, including the vaccine for H1N1 that caused a pandemic in 2009.
The refinement and testing of the CoroFlu vaccine in animal models could take three to six months to complete. Bharat Biotech will then scale up the production of the vaccine for human trials that would probably begin by the fall of 2020.
The M2SR flu vaccine has shown to be safe and well-tolerated during the four Phase I and Phase II clinical trials involving hundreds of subjects. The ability of M2SR to induce an immune response in the human body and the ability of influenza viruses to carry the genetic sequences of other viruses make Bharat Biotech’s CoroFlu vaccine a safe and effective option against the novel coronavirus.
By adding the coding region of coronavirus spike protein to the M2SR, the immune response against both the coronavirus and influenza can be achieved through the vaccine. M2SR is a unique form of flu virus that lacks the M2 gene necessary for the virus to replicate in cells.