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University of Basel and RocketVax present new Covid vaccine

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University of Basel and RocketVax present new Covid vaccine

22.05.2023

Researchers from the University of Basel have developed a new concept for a Covid vaccine in collaboration with the biotech startup RocketVax. It is based on a modified version of the virus that can no longer replicate. The vaccine can be produced cost-effectively and is simple to store and administer.

Covid vaccine research in the laboratory (image: University of Basel)

The University of Basel and RocketVax, a biotechnology startup also based in Basel, are focusing on a new principle, namely single-cycle viruses, in the development of a new vaccine. According to a press release, the vaccine can simply be stored in a refrigerator. It is administered by nasal drop, which does not require trained medical personnel. In addition, the production method for the vaccine is said to be particularly cost-effective and can be easily adapted to future virus variants.

The vaccine is based on a modified version of the coronavirus produced in a lab setting. However, it is unable to replicate further after entering the human body. “Among other things, we remove a specific gene from the blueprint for the viral envelope”, as study leader Prof. Dr. Thomas Klimkait from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel explains in the press release, adding that: “If this envelope component is missing, no new virus particles can be formed”.

Broad financial support

However, the individual virus components are still produced. The body cells present these on their surface to the immune system, which recognizes the virus building blocks and builds up effective immune protection. The team also removed genes that the virus uses to inhibit the immune response of the cells. A patent application for the concept has now also been submitted by the researchers.

RocketVax collaborated on the development and preclinical studies. For the successful animal experiments with hamsters, the team cooperated with the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany. The partnership is embedded in a research cooperation with University Hospital of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). The University Hospital of Basel and the Canton of Basel-Stadt provided startup funding for the preclinical research activities in connection with the new vaccine, which were already underway. The project also received financial support from Innosuisse, the Swiss innovation agency.

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