Clinical trials begin for needle-free Covid-19 vaccine

Australian volunteers are being sought to participate in a clinical trial involving a needle-free Covid-19 vaccine.

Phase 1, being human trials, for COVALIA began this week at participating institutes the Scientia Clinical Research in Sydney, the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.

The gene-based vaccine uses genetic DNA sequences from the SARS-CoV2 virus, which penetrates the skin with the needle-less technology.

Then, the DNA is absorbed by cells in the body, with the DNA code generating the coronavirus spike protein that triggers an immune response.

Instead of a needle, a jet spray is used for the vaccination, designed to ensure the DNA gets inside the cells.

This type of technology is used in the United States to administer flu vaccines but has not been approved outside of research studies in Australia.

According to the University of Sydney, which is leading the trial, there are no additives or preservatives used in the vaccine.

The university has partnered with biotech company Technovalia and its international vaccine partner BioNet, which developed the DNA vaccine.

Under the first phase of the trial, the safety of the vaccine – which will consist of two doses administered one month apart – will be investigated.

It will also look into the vaccine dosage and if it could be lowered. Researchers are seeking 150 participants.

If successful, a larger phase 2 trial will then begin.

The University of Sydney’s lead investigator Nicholas Wood said it was exciting to begin the enrolments and undertake the first needle-free Covid-19 vaccine trial in the nation.

“The start of the COVALIA study is a significant milestone for all involved in this one-of-a-kind partnership between Australian institutions, the industry and the Australian government with $3m in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund,” he said.

Co-Investigator from the Telethon Kids Institute Peter Richmond said it was important to continue developing Covid-19 vaccines as it could lead to better safety and immune responses.

“Having a greater range of vaccines available increases global vaccine capacity to ensure everyone has access to immunisation,” he said.

Screening and enrolments are now open for anyone who would like to participate in the trial.

Visit the Scientia Clinical Research website for more information.

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