The first adenovirus vaccine developed by Turkish scientists awaits approval from the Ministry of Health to move on to human trials. The vaccine is among seven developed against coronavirus in Turkey.
A group of researchers from Ankara University Institute of Cancer Research are working on the vaccine, which can be delivered orally or nasally and recently completed animal trials for the vaccine. The Institute’s director, Professor Hakan Akbulut, says that nasal and oral delivery are the most efficient way for vaccination. The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) endorses the vaccine, whose development started in March 2020, the month Turkey reported its first coronavirus cases.
Akbulut and his team of seven researchers successfully carried out animal tests for the vaccine and applied to the Ministry of Health last year for the next stage: human trials. A regulation that requires serial production of the vaccine for advancing to the human trial stage hindered their work, but the researchers applied again after signing a deal with a local pharmaceuticals company for mass production. Akbulut says all phases in human trials can be completed within ten months and the vaccine could be ready for public use.
Adenovirus is actually the name of a group of common viruses that cause cold-like symptoms. Scientists implant antigens from COVID-19 into adenoviruses, basically altering them and using them as a carrier for genetic instructions. The genetic instructions prepare the body for producing spike proteins. With spike proteins, the immune system is taught how to effectively respond to coronavirus. According to Akbulut, their vaccine is different than other adenovirus jabs, “with an original design” and “absence of side effects.”
“We expect it to create a much longer immunity in humans than other vaccines. This is proven in animal trials. Other vaccines based on Messenger RNA technology and inactive viruses prevent severe cases and reduce fatalities but they are still unable to stop infections from spreading. Our vaccine does this by providing longer immunity,” he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Sunday.
Akbulut said nasal and oral delivery – not available in other vaccines – was also effective in stopping infections. “Delivering it through mouth or nose helps create secreting antibodies in those areas of the body. These antibodies, in a way, serve as a guard against coronavirus, on the spots where the virus enters the body first,” he said. He noted that the vaccine would also be efficient against new, fast-spreading variants of coronavirus, such as delta and delta plus.
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