Oral Vaccine in capsule form
- The researchers say they are more than 100% sure that the technology works and is promising stuff.
- Normally, gastric acids can degrade any protective layers enclosing the antigen and turn the vaccine useless.
- Oravax says that they have overcome this challenge and will begin human trials in 3 months’ time.
Premas Biotech, a Gurugram-based biotechnology firm, and Oramed Pharmaceuticals, a Jerusalem headquartered company, in collaboration have reportedly developed an oral vaccine, one that can be swallowed like a pill instead of being injected as is the norm, for COVID-19.
According to a report in The Hindu as well as in India Today, the two companies that have a long-standing collaboration on developing new drug delivery techniques, claim that a preliminary test in animals showed the vaccine producing the expected antibodies that confer protection.
The Hindu, however, clarifies that the findings have not been reported in a scientific publication yet and can’t be independently verified. These are preliminary results of animal studies while clinical trials will launch soon in the second quarter of 2021. The Hindu reports that human trials of this oral vaccine are at least three months away.
What is the Oral Vaccine Capsule:
- The nascent (not yet completely through the system) vaccine candidate is a protein-based VLP (Virus-Like Particle) vaccine-candidate.
- It generates “triple protection” against the SARS CoV-2 virus, ie. – target (1) the spike, (2) the membrane, and (3) the envelope proteins of the coronavirus.
- These 3 proteins are critical to the structure of the coronavirus
- These proteins give it the form (shape) it has and helps it replicate within the host’s body
- Vaccines do the job of neutralising these antigenic proteins.
The challenges in the path of making oral vaccines:
- Our stomachs secrete strong gastric juices
- Anything we ingest (including these oral vaccine capsules) must face the ferocity of gastric juices
- These gastric acids can degrade any protective layers enclosing the antigen and turn the vaccine useless
- Oravax says that they have overcome this challenge
- They will, however, not part with the secret proprietary formula
Oravax, the company developing the vaccine, is a joint venture between Premas and Oramed. The latter specialises in making oral drug delivery systems and Premas has a technology platform called D-Crypt that is used to make a variety of “difficult to express” proteins in sizeable quantities efficiently. An oral Covid-19 Oravax is a vaccine candidate that harnesses and combines the true potential of the two unique platforms.
The vaccine candidate is also safe, efficacious and well-tolerated at normal to high doses, and generated high titres of neutralising antibodies. The VLP is manufactured using Premas’ proprietary D-Crypt™ platform, which is highly scalable and can be manufactured on large scales.
Prabuddha Kundu, Co-founder and Managing Director, Premas Biotech, told The Hindu that an oral vaccine would significantly ease mass administration. “It would be like taking a vitamin pill and what I can disclose now is that we are more than 100% sure that the technology works and is promising. In a month we should have a scientific publication reporting our results.”
Meanwhile, according to a report in India Today, another vaccine of Bharat Biotech is also being made in the nasal form along with the University of Wisconsin. The vaccine’s delivery route is through a nasal spray and is already undergoing clinical trials. In India, the human stage trials for nasal vaccines have begun.