UAB preparing COVID-19 vaccine for human trials

Coronavirus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — UAB Hospital has been testing a COVID-19 vaccine on mice, and now medical specialists are gearing up for human trials.

The hospital research lab teamed up with Maryland-based biopharmaceutical company Altimmune to create the vaccine, AdCovid, that will be ready for human trials this fall.

Dr. Frances Lund is the lead UAB investigator for pre-clinical testing overseeing testing of AdCovid. She said the vaccine has taken months of work, and the hope is that humans see the same results as seen in the mice.

Lund said that unlike other vaccines, the COVID-19 antibodies could be found in both the blood and the lungs.

“Most of the vaccines that people are looking at today are ones that you’d give as a shot in your arm, those induce good antibodies in the blood, but don’t do anything in the respiratory tract,” Lund said.

AdCovid is inhaled through the nose, allowing antibodies to form in the body’s respiratory tract.

“It induced a very potent immune response that was seen both in respiratory tracts in the lungs and also in systemic sites like the lungs,” Lund said.

Dozens of COVID-19 vaccines are being tested across the globe. Lund said this is a good thing because certain vaccines may be better suited for certain demographics.

“Each vaccine may have a different set of properties, certain vaccines may be more appropriate for some populations of people than others,” she explained.

When asked if she is optimistic about the vaccine, Lund said she’s hopeful AdCovid is effective.

“I am optimistic that there will be a vaccine,” she said. “Whether or not it is this one, who knows. I am cautiously optimistic that one or more of the vaccines currently being tested will be effective.”

Lund said Altimmune is still working on criteria for human trials. The vaccine will be given to healthy patients to understand the side-effects.

AdCovid is administered intranasally, meaning you may be able to do it yourself, without a doctor or nurse.  And the drug doesn’t need to be refrigerated, making distribution much simpler.


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