Written by Rinehart Duke, CNN A shot at a shot at a vaccine
Exposure to a new variant of the anthrax bacteria produced in the laboratory causes widespread panic among the public. After this news broke earlier this year, chemists at Covid Vaccines are experimenting to develop a formulation that would counter attacks that do not involve cross-species infection. The new vaccine works on tetracycline reactions to counter the anthrax attack.
Covid Vaccines Limited
The company is fully-funded and has enough financial resources to produce enough of their antigen to give 10 million doses — enough for nearly 70% of the world’s population, it says.
“The process itself is pretty robust and therefore can be scaled up quite easily,” says Covid CEO David Bentley.
In the next few weeks, Covid will launch the clinical trial of their new vaccine. Over 3,000 people will test the safety of the new adjuvant, which is made by different firms.
“What happens when we get to a certain number of subjects, once we’re well over 10% of the 1,000 people that we expect to enrol, we can start manufacturing.”
That new vaccine will be available across Europe by mid-2018, although only a small proportion of the population will receive it because people usually don’t get into hospitals for anthrax infections unless it is too late, Bentley says.
“It’s got to be a safe vaccine, because you can’t give people false hope,” Bentley adds.
Courtesy Covid Vaccines Limited/thyremon for CNN
Omicron expects that a new antibody in the vaccination will continue to be effective, and if by chance it doesn’t, then Covid will modify the vaccine to avoid cross-species infections.
The new variant — which was produced in the laboratory but, due to genomic changes, was only considered anthrax-associated at the time it was discovered — only has to attack the cells of the immune system that can target tetracycline to elicit a particular immune response.
“It’s targeted specifically on tetracycline immune mechanisms, which in itself is interesting because it allows for potentially very large populations of people to be vaccinated,” Bentley says.
A physical expression of the interaction between an antigen, the vaccine and the immune system. Courtesy Covid Vaccines Limited/thyremon for CNN
Bentley says that in principle, it is possible that the new vaccine could be altered to neutralize the anthrax variant.
“Our products work very hard against whatever they’re targeting — that’s why they’re so good. Having said that, any way you look at it, the target that you select as a vaccine, is actually an antigen, so it’s not about selecting a specific antigen, it’s a targeted antigen that we’re immunizing against.
“It’s rather like selecting a surgeon to remove a kidney, or a surgeon to remove the guts of a pig, or the mouth of a dog. Then you can raise the question — well how do you neutralize that?”
Successful commercialization of the vaccine will hinge on a number of factors. Covid is keen to prove that the new variant, and its resulting immune response, is more successful than ever before.
But now, since they no longer produce anthrax bacteria, Covid will also look at factors that impact the genes within the anthrax bacterium and whether this can cause a reaction in the immune system.
“This will help us to understand how drugs like Bacillus anthracis work, whether we can identify some of these genes and whether we might be able to treat them with vaccines.”
Bacillus anthracis is of the same bacteria types as the animals that present the anthrax infection, but is a different species and therefore will act in different ways.