SEP 17, 2020 7:00 AM PDT

COVID Vaccine Works in Macaques - What about in Humans?

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, in partnership with BioNTech has reported that one of its lead vaccine candidates has shown promising results in protecting animals against coronavirus infections. The experimental vaccine, BNT162b2, is distinct from other commercially-available vaccines in that it is in an mRNA format, an RNA version of the gene that travels from the nucleus to the cell cytoplasm where proteins are made.

In a recent study, the companies published that the vaccine, once injected into macaques and mice, produced antibodies that neutralized SARS-CoV-2, thus protecting against the symptoms of COVID-19. One shot was given to the animals together with a booster shot, which protected them from the coronavirus, compared to the unvaccinated animals which became infected. It also launched an immune response via the activation of T cells in the macaques, which together formed a strong antiviral shield. The results were published in BioRxiv.

Does this mean a vaccine that will protect humans against COVID-19 is around the corner? For now, it’s still up in the air. Recently, competitor AstraZeneca had to pump the brakes on the clinical trial of their COVID vaccine after a participant in the trial suffered serious neurological side effects after being injected with it. The difference between this vaccine and BNT162b2 is that the latter uses a potentially safer mRNA approach, providing some cause for optimism.

Massive clinical trials to test the efficacy and safety of experimental COVID-19 vaccines are currently underway. J&J, for example, has 60,000 people lined up to test their vaccine frontrunner, which showed similarly robust protective effects in primate studies.

Pfizer and BioNTech are pushing forward with the validation of BNT162b2, enrolling over 25,000 around the world who will receive the experimental treatment.

 

Source: Fierce Biotech.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
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