LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - The University of Cambridge is
aiming to start clinical trials of its possible coronavirus
vaccine in the autumn after it received 1.9 million pounds ($2.5
million) in funding from the British government, the university
said on Wednesday.
The scientists behind the vaccine said their approach, which
uses genetic sequences of all known coronaviruses to hone the
immune response, could help avoid the adverse effects of a
hyper-inflammatory immune response.
"We're looking for chinks in its armour, crucial pieces of
the virus that we can use to construct the vaccine to direct the
immune response in the right direction," Jonathan Heeney, head
of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the University of
"Ultimately we aim to make a vaccine that will not only
protect from SARS-CoV-2, but also other related coronaviruses
that may spill over from animals to humans."
No vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes
COVID-19 has yet been proven clinically effective, though 30
that use a range of technologies are in human trials already.
The Cambridge candidate, DIOS-CoVax2, is DNA based.
Computer-generated antigen structures are encoded by synthetic
genes, which can then re-programme the body's immune system to
produce antibodies against the coronavirus.
This DNA vector method has been shown to be safe and
effective at stimulating an immune response in other pathogens
in early stage trials, the university said.
Although it is operating at a later timetable than some
other vaccine candidates, the DIOS-CoVax2 shot would not need to
be stored at cold temperatures and could be delivered without
needles, possibly making the widespread distribution of the
"This could be a major breakthrough in being able to give a
future vaccine to huge numbers of people across the world," said
Saul Faust, Director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research
($1 = 0.7611 pounds)
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Mark Potter)