Successful clinical trial for re-engineered Covid vaccine 

Covid-19 vaccine

The University of Queensland’s re-engineered clamp platform has produced a vaccine that is equally safe and virus-neutralising as an approved Covid vaccine considered among the best in its class.

The pivotal proof-of-concept testing clears the way to progress the Clamp2 technology in a range of research programmes.  

Project leader, Associate Professor Keith Chappell, said the preliminary clinical trial results were an ‘exciting reward’ for the team’s continued dedication and the community’s widespread support for the project.

“We compared second-generation clamp SARS-CoV-2 vaccine head-to-head with TGA-approved Nuvaxovid (Novavax), and the two were found to be functionally equivalent,” Dr Chappell said. “The Clamp2 trial group showed a 2.5-fold boost in neutralising ‘titres’ and it was 2.1 in the Novavax group.

“The two vaccines produced highly comparable results, however while there were no new Covid infections among the Clamp2 volunteers, there have been three Covid cases detected amongst Nuvaxovid recipients so far.” 

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation

The team’s vaccine research has been supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) for five years, and last year committed up to AU$8.5 million to continue development for use in the global response to future disease outbreaks.

Dr In-Kyu Yoon, Director Programmes and Innovative Technology at CEPI, said advancing vaccine platforms – like UQs molecular clamp technology – would be crucial for developing vaccines against new emerging infectious threats. He said: “CEPI is striving towards vaccines being developed within 100 days of a new virus emerging: a goal known as the 100 Days Mission. I look forward to the continued progress of this cutting-edge technology”.

Looking forward

The technology is now entering a new phase with a company founded to develop the patented Molecular Clamp. UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest has licensed the technology to Vicebio, which is progressing its use against respiratory pathogens such as respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza viruses, according to Dr Chappell. Progress to a proof-of-concept human trial for the re-engineered molecular clamp has also been supported by the Queensland and Australian Governments and philanthropic partners. 

As part of UQ’s partnering agreement with CEPI, and in line with CEPI’s equitable access policy, UQ has agreed that vaccine candidates produced using their platform technology will be available in an outbreak situation to populations at risk including in low-income and middle-income countries.

The trial

Participants in both clinical trial groups will be monitored regularly for a period of six months. The trial was conducted with CSL Seqirus’s proprietary MF59 adjuvant which was made available for inclusion with clamp2 vaccine.

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