Italy could market the first oral Covid vaccine: is called LeCoVax2 and was developed by the State University of Milan in collaboration with VisMederi Research, a research and qualified services company based in Siena which operates in the fields of Life Sciences and Public Health.
The first preclinical experimental study, as reported by the AGI, was carried out on a mouse model (i.e. on mice), it demonstrated its effectiveness in inducing antibodies capable of neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus within a living organism. The results achieved are the result of a long research work coordinated by Claudio Bandi, Sara Epis and Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti of the Romeo and Enrica Invernizzi Pediatric Research Center of the University of Milan, in collaboration with Emanuele Montomoli, scientific director of VisMederi Research srl (and lecturer at the University of Siena), which has already translated into two patents filed in February of this year.
LeCoVax2, because the Italian Covid vaccine is different from all the others
LeCoVax2 has innovative features, so much so that today we can say that it is a completely different Covid vaccine than those currently administered in Italy. What distinguishes it is the mechanism of action, different from mRNA and viral vector vaccines, and the conservation methods, not very complex and easy to distribute.
Vaccines currently used in Europe, in fact, are essentially based on two types of mechanisms:
- i mRNA vaccines, which introduce a viral mRNA protein into the body triggering the immune response (the immune system recognizes that the protein is foreign and produces specialized proteins called antibodies that help protect the body from infection by recognizing individual viruses or other pathogens);
- e i vaccines with viral vectors, which differ from most conventional vaccines in that they do not contain antigens, but use the body’s cells to make them. This is all done using a modified virus (the vector) to provide the genetic code for the antigen. By infecting the cells this begins to produce large amounts of antigen, which then triggers an immune response. In practice, the vaccine mimics what happens during natural infection with certain pathogens.
The vaccine platform used for the production of LeCoVax2 on the other hand, it is completely different, because it is based on a modified unicellular microorganism, which performs all vital functions in a single cell and which is therefore able to both introduce and produce the viral proteins that act as antigens, thus stimulating the production of antibodies in vaccinated subjects.
The LeCoVax2 microorganism that allows all this is called “Leishmania tarentolae” – not pathogenic for humans – which can be administered in an inactivated form and which, once inoculated in humans, has the ability to produce proteins such as those produced by the virus same during natural infection. In this way it develops viral antigens capable of stimulating the production of antibodies.
LeCoVax2 could be the first Italian vaccine for oral use
The peculiarities of LeCoVax2 make it very promising for application in developing countries – explained Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and member of the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences L. Sacco ‘of UniMi -. The technology necessary for its production, in fact, is relatively simple. Furthermore, being administered in an inactivated form, it can develop into preparations freeze-dried rehydratable, therefore easy to store.
For this reason, according to scientists LeCoVax2 can be developed for the mucosal administration (e.g. for oral use), which would not only facilitate its use but would give a considerable cut to the times of the vaccination campaign in Italy and Europe, especially if we take into account the fact that the anti-Covid vaccination could be repeated in the years to come.
When will LeCoVax2 arrive in Italy? At what point are they with studies and experimentation
Despite the encouraging results and the completed studies, LeCoVax2 is not yet ready to be distributed and administered.
“On paper, LeCoVax2 has been promising since the early stages of development – explained Emanuele Montomoli of VisMederi Research – but only in the last few weeks have we obtained the experimental results that have demonstrated its effectiveness as an inducer of a specific antibody response “.
However, the scientists will proceed with the preclinical investigations. One of their main goals remains the definition of formulation most suitable for use and distribution which, in fact, would outperform the competition.