IISc’s vaccine has potential to fight Indian variants, but it has a funding problem


It’s other key advantage: It can be stored at room temperature after freeze drying

With the chorus for more options for covid vaccines getting louder and louder, and foreign vaccines waiting for approval to be allowed in India, another local vaccine is under development. And this one is being developed in Bengaluru.

A recombinant subunit vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 which is being developed by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has over the last few months been able to create several highly immunogenic thermotolerant versions, said researchers associated with the project.

What this means is that it has been able to generate several neutralizing antibodies to prevent some of the new variants.

“One of the primary ways a vaccine protects is by getting the body to produce antibodies that prevent the virus from infecting cells. These antibodies are called neutralizing antibodies. In mice and guinea pigs, our vaccine formulation generates large amounts of neutralizing antibodies. We have shown that these neutralizing antibodies can prevent some of the new variants from infecting cells in the test tube,” the project’s team lead Raghavan Varadarajan told Bangalore Mirror.

He added that in mice their formulation has been able to generate about 200 fold higher neutralizing antibodies compared to those seen in human convalescent sera taken from people who have recently recovered from covid-19.

Further explaining how this vaccine which is currently under development scores over the Indian vaccines and the foreign ones, Raghavan said that apart from being high immunogenicity and better at protecting against new variants it can be able to be stored at room temperature.

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“The most important component of the vaccine is that it can be stored after freeze-drying at room temperature. Hence no cold-chain or refrigeration would be required,” Raghavan said.

While the two Indian vaccines can be stored at 2 to 8 degree celsius, Pfizer requires minus 70 degree celsius and Moderna minus 20 degree celsius. Russia’s Sputnik V which has arrived in India needs to be stored at 2 to 8 degree celsius.

Raghavan said that funding for the next phase of trials including clinical development and Phase 1-2 trials in humans would require more funding.

“Efficacy can only be tested after we do process development, safety and toxicity studies and Phase 1 and 2 trials in humans, and for all this funding is required,” Raghavan said.

He said a funding of Rs 15 crore is required, however, only Rs 3 crore has been received so far.

“The number of Rs 15 crore is from our current stage up to Phase 2. We have received a total of about Rs 3 crore so far but for development and animal testing of the molecule,” he said.



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Sagar Biswas

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