Research carried out by the IGC and ITQB-NOVA research institutes, in Oeiras, reveals promising data that may result in a new oral vaccine against Covid-19.
A group of researchers from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) and Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology António Xavier of the NOVA University of Lisbon (ITQB-NOVA), based in the Municipality of Oeiras, is carrying out a study for a potential oral vaccine against Covid-19.
The knowledge gained from previous studies that a modified bacterium can cause its host to develop antibodies that protect against malaria was essential in getting the new study project off the ground.
The vaccine consists of bacteria that have SARS-CoV-2 virus proteins on their surface. The Oeiras research institutes continue, with this research, to find more tools to stop the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The bacteria is introduced orally as a probiotic, or “like a yoghurt”, and it has already been revealed that the potential vaccine is able to produce antibodies against the new coronavirus in humanised mice.
The idea of developing an oral vaccine using bacteria is not new and can be rapidly scalable, with fewer logistics and reduced costs.
This makes it possible to reach more people in countries where cold chains are scarce and vaccine delivery capacity is limited. In addition, it is easier to modify the structure of the introduced protein for possible new variants.
In the next phase, the Oeiras researchers will test the ability of the oral Covid-19 vaccine in a protected laboratory environment. For this purpose, the IGC has built a Biosafety level 3 laboratory.
For several years now, the different bacteria with which we cohabit have been studied at the IGC and ITQB-NOVA. The potential for some bacteria to induce the production of antibodies that provide protection from disease will enable a potential new oral vaccine.