LeCovax2, a new type of coronavirus vaccine is being studied

LeCovax2, a new type of coronavirus vaccine is being studied


For now it is still in an early stage, albeit with first favorable evidence. It is based neither on mRna nor on adenovirus, but on a particular microorganism that produces and transports the spike protein

(photo: mattthewafflecat via Pixabay) The hunt for vaccines does not stop, even after we have them and have several . By now we know, in fact, that it will probably be necessary to repeat the recall over and over again and it could be important to have new products, with different formulations, methods of administration and accessibility. Also for this reason, a group from the University of Milano Statale is studying an anti Covid-19 vaccine, called LeCovax2, based on a completely different approach than those currently in use. The experimentation is still at a preclinical level and the first tests, which as the authors explain are positive, are collected on an animal model, even if the path traced could be promising. There is still no publication, although the researchers, coordinated by Claudio Bandi, Sara Epis and Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti, plan to release a preprint within a few weeks. Here is how it is built and the differences with existing coronavirus vaccines.

Coronavirus, the vaccines in use in Italy

In Italy we have 4 vaccines in use. Of these, two - Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna - based on the use of messenger Rna (mRna), brought to the cell via liposomes or nanoparticles, which is necessary for the production of the Sars-Cov-2 spike protein against which the system will arm itself. immune producing the response. While AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine are based on the use of a viral vector: a harmless virus - an adenovirus - carries the information needed by the cell to produce the coronavirus spike protein against which the immune system will activate.

LeCovax2, a new approach

The method of construction of LeCovax2 is different from these two and from the other vaccines developed against the coronavirus (those not yet arrived or in any case not available in Europe, such as Sputnik V, that of Novavax, of Sinovac and not only). In this case, the vaccine is based on a modified single-cell microorganism, a parasite completely harmless to humans, which is able to both produce and transport spike proteins, stimulating the production of antibodies in the vaccinated subject. The choice of the microorganism fell on Leishmania tarentolae, which has nothing to do with the parasite that causes leishmaniasis in dogs and which is not pathogenic for us and to be administered in an inactivated form.

The idea is that of obtaining a micro-factory - the modified microorganism - capable of generating the Sars-Cov-2 proteins and delivering them to the cells. It is not the first time that this path has been taken, but in this specific case it is the first approach for a vaccine against coronavirus based on a microorganism like this. Scientists have used techniques to modify Leishmania tarentolae and make it possible to produce Sars-Cov-2 proteins.

Where we are

The first results have arrived, although not are still published. “In the last few weeks - underlines Emanuele Montomoli of VisMederi Research, who collaborated on the work - we have obtained the experimental results that have proved its effectiveness as an inducer of a specific antibody response”. The data emerged from a mouse animal model study. If the experimentation always proceeds favorably - we know that the times are long - the vaccine will be able to provide another alternative. This option could be especially valid for developing countries, as the authors point out, due to various factors that simplify production and administration. To create the vaccine, “the necessary technology is relatively simple”, Zuccotti emphasizes, “then, being administered in an inactivated form, it is suitable for development in rehydratable freeze-dried preparations, therefore easy to store and distribute. We also believe that LeCoVax2 can be developed for mucosal (eg oral) administration, which would facilitate its use, an important aspect if the anti-COVID vaccination were to be repeated over the years ".

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