Once vaccinated, protected forever? A research team is currently working on a General vaccine against flu, coronavirus and other viruses. Administered the vaccine could be via a nasal spray. Immunologist Marcus Goettrup explains in an Interview how this would work.
They are currently working on a flu vaccine that could revolutionize the market. Mr Groettrup, what will you do?
The existing vaccines aim to ensure that the Vaccinated antibodies develop against the surface protein of the influenza virus. Because of this mutated but frequently changed, it must be selected the vaccines again and again, so that they act. We are working on a General vaccine that will protect against all viruses classes and mutations permanently.
How is that going to work?
We want to create with our vaccination only antibodies, but long-lasting memory T-lymphocytes, i.e. cells of the cellular immune system. It is the responsibility of viruses that multiply in cells and intracellular bacteria to track down. The memory cells can be seen with their Antigen receptors from the outside, whether in a body cell, a Virus has invaded. You can see this from a Protein that is in the Interior of the Virus. This Protein is altered in contrast to the surface of the protein and is therefore in a whole collection of viral strains.
As schools in the memory of the cells, these proteins?
We encapsulate highly conserved virus proteins in biodegradable microspheres. Which is about the size of a small cell. These are taken up by the cells, which are lymphocytes is necessary and relevant for the activation of T. These so-called dendritic cells are highly specialized to present antigens in these beads in it, to membrane proteins on the cell surface. The T-cells to see these antigens and stimulated.
This Stimulation leads to an immune response?
Exactly. The Virus is dependent on the cell it has infected, survive long enough to reproduce, and out of the cell can break out. If the cell but is killed in an infection situation of a so-called killer T cell, the virus spread can be prevented very effectively.
Your method would have success, it would not only against influenza viruses can be used, but against any Form of viruses. So, also against Sars-CoV-2?
That’s right. We can pack all kinds of antigens with immune stimulants in these biodegradable micro-removal of particles. With the Spike Protein, the surface protein of Sars-CoV-2, we have tried it already, and mice immunized. We found that the antibody response, but also the T-memory response against Sars-CoV-2 is very good.
Is the vaccine development against Sars-CoV-2 in your project in the foreground?
We can only do what we can to get money. Our project that we are working together with the University of Tübingen and the Technical University of Dresden and funded by the German Federal Ministry for education and research, the goal is to check how long the T-cells stop the immune response in the mice, as long as we, the mice against a viral infection can protect it and whether we can protect you against all kinds of different pathogens, the real flu. The real flu calls every year, tens of thousands of deaths, especially in the Elderly and small children, and is a very dangerous pandemic infection. This relates to both animals and people. But Sars-CoV-2 is, of course, the focus. We will now draw the Experiments to see if we are able to protect animals that are infected with Sars-CoV-2, against the Virus.
You are still in a preclinical study, so at the beginning. However, vaccine development has taken in the past year, turbo-speed. It can now proceed with your vaccine very quickly?
We develop these biodegradable micro-removal spheres for vaccine development for 20 years. The research and development of mRNA vaccines, as is the case with Biontech, Moderna and Curevac is also running for at least 20 years. That one has now to be found in the Covid-19 pandemic, the correct formulation of the just, this is random. Our project, therefore, in the next three years, the results that we have already published, so to demonstrate that a development program can be built on it. Only after the application for a clinical study Phase 1 would come.
It will still take some time.
It depends on the formulation. How to have worked for years on the correct formulation of the mRNA vaccine, we also work for many years because the particles are removed in the proper time, that you will not be well received by stimulating cells that included proteins fail, and so on. This requires a series many of the test. But I am convinced that our procedure is very potent, and we were also able to show in the preliminary study. In the end you will see who wins the race. We are far from the only ones working on it.
The new method could bring a further Change: vaccination by nasal spray. How can you imagine that?
As A Runny Nose Sprays. These micro-spheres are so small that they float in liquid. By Spraying into the nose, these particles enter the lungs and in the Airways – this could work and is already being explored in some pilot tests. The mice we immunize over the nose.