Army Begins Testing of COVID-19 Vaccine Targeting Variants
The U.S. Army this week began phase 1 testing of a COVID-19 vaccine it developed, which is aimed at protecting against many coronavirus variants.
The Army-developed vaccine candidate is being tested at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Clinical Trials Center, where researchers expect to enroll 72 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years.
Pre-clinical studies indicated that the candidate induces highly potent and broad neutralizing antibody responses against the virus that causes COVID-19 infection, as well as three major SARS-CoV-2 variants, the researchers said.
The vaccine’s multi-faced sphere design allows repetitive presentation of the coronavirus spike protein to the immune system, a strategy that may help provide broader protection.
The nanoparticle vaccine uses a ferritin protein platform that “paves the way for a universal vaccine to protect against not only the current virus, but also counter future variants,” said Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at WRAIR who leads the Army’s COVID-19 vaccine research efforts.
Modjarrad co-invented the vaccine with WRAIR structural biologist Gordon Joyce, an employee of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. — Suz Redfearn