Over the past year, the Virology, Bioprocess Engineering and Biochemistry research groups have successfully continued their work on a back-up COVID-19 vaccine named S1-VLP. The results of recent tests on mice have now been published in the scientific journal mBio.
The tests found that even a low dose of the vaccine resulted in a good immune response. The back-up vaccine was developed within the European Prevent-nCoV consortium. Another vaccine – ABNCoV2 – has also been developed in Denmark as part of this partnership. This vaccine underwent testing in a clinical trial earlier this year and is now in the final test phase. If this is successful, the pharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic will market the vaccine in 2022. It will likely be used as a booster for people who had previously received a different vaccine, which will help to maintain immunity against COVID-19.
Fewer side effects
The vaccines developed by Prevent-nCoV in Denmark and Wageningen are protein vaccines, just like the regular flu jab and HPV vaccine. These types of vaccines give fewer side effects than the mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines currently in use to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many people had side effects for several days after being vaccinated against the coronavirus,” says Associate Professor Gorben Pijlman at Wageningen’s Laboratory of Virology. “If it becomes the case that everyone has to receive a booster jab every six months, it will be useful to have access to one of these protein vaccines that produce fewer side effects.”
Wageningen’s S1-VLP vaccine, designed and produced by PhD candidates Linda van Oosten and Jort Altenburg during the first lockdown, is made in insect cells. It has the major advantage of being suitable for very large-scale production, with a single bioreactor of insect cells able to produce a million doses.