Oxford scientists to begin COVID-19 vaccine clinical testing

20 Apr 2020

A team of scientists from the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group are to begin clinical testing of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The vaccine development team, led by Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas, Professor Andrew Pollard and IVVN Network Management Board member Professor Adrian Hill, have developed a recombinant viral vectored vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19.

The vaccine contains the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, inside a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector developed at the Jenner Institute, called ChAdOx1. The chimpanzee adenovirus vector platform has been used in vaccines targeting 15 different diseases, from malaria to late stage cancer. Vaccines utilising this platform have also been delivered to over 6,000 subjects of different ages, ranging very young children to the elderly, making it a suitable technology for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The team are testing the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in studies with non-human primates and ferrets and have manufactured a small batch of the vaccine at the University of Oxford’s clinical bio manufacturing facility, ahead of clinical testing of the vaccine.

Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute and IVVN board member, said: “Clinical trials will begin shortly with the vaccine being administered to the first volunteer in the week commencing April 20th 2020. The safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine will be tested during a Phase I clinical trial of over 500 subjects where we hope to see evidence of neutralising antibodies and functional T cell responses.”

Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the COVID-19 vaccine project, said: “From the time the sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was first made available in January, Jenner Institute researchers began to develop a vaccine candidate, and as the outbreak spread we accelerated our plans, adding expertise to the team to take us through early testing, GMP manufacturing and into clinical development in record time. The next critical stage is about to begin.”

The vaccine development team are focused on rapid clinical development of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine as a potential route to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Teresa Lambe, who is leading the early stages of vaccine development, said: “The commitment, compassion and helpfulness felt throughout the whole effort from everyone we have been working with has been amazing. We deeply appreciate the support of all our collaborators, funders and the teams around us in getting to this stage with the speed we have.”

For more information about this exciting study, please click here

This research is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

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