Austria’s newly developed COVID vaccination could protect against omicron and other variants

Excerpt:

Preclinical data for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed at MedUni Vienna shows that it is effective against all SARS-CoV-2 variants known to date, including omicron, even in patients who have not yet developed immunity as a result of vaccination (non-responders)

Article Summary

The antigen-based vaccine developed at MedUni Vienna, led by Rudolf Valenta of the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology, and Immunology, targets the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s receptor binding domains (RBD) and elicited a strong and uniform RBD-specific IgG antibody response in animal models and human tests. This antibody response inhibits the virus from docking onto and entering cells in the body, preventing infection.

The SARS-CoV-2 subunit vaccine (PreS-RBD) developed at MedUni Vienna is based on a structurally folded fusion protein made up of two receptor binding domains (RBD) from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the PreS antigen from hepatitis B, which act as immunological carriers for each other, boosting the immune response. The current genetic SARS-CoV-2 vaccines elicit mostly temporary IgG1 antibody responses, but the PreS-RBD vaccination can also elicit long-lasting RBD-specific IgG4 antibodies.

PreS-RBD-specific IgG antibodies detected in blood and mucosal secretions reacted with SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the omicron variant. Antibodies induced by vaccination with PreS-RBD more potently inhibited the binding of RBD with its human receptor ACE2, and their virus-neutralizing titers were higher than those in a random sample of individuals fully immunized with two vaccinations of currently registered vaccines or than those of COVID-19 convalescents (i.e., individuals who had previously had COVID-19).

It is expected that the vaccine will even be effective in people who have not previously responded to vaccination (“RBD non-responders”), as they will receive additional T-cell support from the PreS portion of the vaccine. According to a previous study by Valenta and colleagues, around 20% of those recovered from COVID-19 failed to produce RBD-specific antibodies, putting them at risk of re-infection.

The development of this Austrian COVID vaccine was largely influenced by decades of allergy vaccine design knowledge. Previous research on allergy vaccinations, as well as clinical studies with PreS-based allergy vaccines, have shown that PreS-based vaccines are safe to use, even when administered frequently.

Source: Medical University of Vienna

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