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CCMB’s mRna Covid vaccine effective in mice, agency doesn’t have ‘capacity’ for human trials

Based on technology used by American pharmaceutical company Moderna, the CCMB vaccine is India's 2nd indigenous mRNA Covid vaccine, & the agency is open to private partnership for human trials.

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Hyderabad: Two doses of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology’s mRNA vaccine against Covid displayed effective neutralising antibodies in mice, the Hyderabad-based research organisation confirmed in a press conference held Friday. The CCMB also said it was open to partnering with industries and private players for human trials, as it did not have the mechanism to do it independently.

Messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines, work by introducing a fragment of a messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) that codes for and teaches the body to make a protein that is characteristic of the pathogen — using the body’s own translation machinery — and then teaches the immune system to respond to it.

CCMB’s mRNA vaccine, which has been in works for the past 11 months and is being developed at the organisation’s Atal Incubation Centre, is based on the technology used by American pharmaceutical company Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, CCMB director Vinay Nandicoori said Friday, adding that a lot of novel components were incorporated in their mRNA vaccine to differentiate it from others.

“We observed robust immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in mice, upon administration of two doses of the mRNA. The anti-spike antibodies generated were found to be more than 90 per cent efficient in preventing the human ACE2 receptor (from) binding to the coronavirus,” said Rajesh Iyer, a CCMB scientist involved in creating the vaccine.

While the ACE2 receptor is seen as the entry point for the coronavirus to hook onto and infect a wide range of human cells, spike protein are the protrusions seen on the outer surface of the novel coronavirus.

Scientists at CCMB claimed, however, that the technology used by them in their vaccine is different from the mRNA vaccine being developed by Pune-based Gennova Bio. Geneva Bio, which produced India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine, submitted it’s phase-II and phase-III trials data to the Drug Controller General of India in March this year.


Also read: WHO move to suspend Covaxin’s UN supply won’t affect trips to UK, US & over 90 nations, govt says


‘Knowledge partners, work confined to laboratory levels’

Saying that it will take CCMB about two more months to complete different stages of animal trial, Nandicoori added that the research institute does not have the capacity to scale up the process and conduct human trials, for which they would require participation from corporate, private players.

“We are knowledge partners, we do not have the capacity to conduct human trials, which happen at industrial levels, and our work is confined to laboratory levels. So, we require industry partners, corporates and private players. We are already in talk with a few of them, but nothing has been finalised yet. We are ready to work with any kind of private players, provided they have the machinery to take it forward,” Nandicoori said.

When asked if CCMB’s mRNA vaccine, based on Moderna’s technology, would pose any patent issues, CCMB’s scientist Madhusudhana Rao said that they were told that Moderna “did not protect its patent in India”.

“Our vaccine is based on existing literature and Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, but not everything is available or has been picked up. We have incorporated our own methodology and research to show our work. Obviously, when there is technology available, one would not start from zero,” Nandicoori said. ‘We are ready for a technology transfer,” he added.

CCMB also pointed out that their mRNA technology, can be modified for vaccinations against several other diseases such as Tuberculosis, Dengue and Malaria.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


Also read: As booster uptake lags in pvt sector, officials say health system can’t be in Covid mode forever


 

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