Within weeks reports Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have developed Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine, or SpFN, a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants including Omicron. Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch, made the announcement in an exclusive interview with Defense One.
Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well.
Scientists in WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB) developed the SpFN nanoparticle vaccine, based on a ferritin platform, as part of a forward-thinking “pan-SARS” strategy that aims to address the current pandemic and acts as a first line of defense against variants of concern and similar viruses that could emerge in the future.
“The accelerating emergence of human coronaviruses throughout the past two decades and the rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including most recently Omicron, underscore the continued need for next-generation preemptive vaccines that confer broad protection against coronavirus diseases,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR, co-inventor of the vaccine and the U.S. Army lead for SpFN. “Our strategy has been to develop a ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccine technology that could potentially offer safe, effective and durable protection against multiple coronavirus strains and species.”
- Vaccine effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as from previous SARS-origin viruses.
- Two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020.
- SpFN entered Phase 1 human trials in April 2021.
- Early analyses, expected to conclude this month, will provide insights into whether SpFN’s potency and breadth, as demonstrated in preclinical trials, will carry over into humans.
- Unlike existing vaccines, Walter Reed’s SpFN uses a soccer ball-shaped protein with 24 faces for its vaccine, which allows scientists to attach the spikes of multiple coronavirus strains on different faces of the protein.
- New vaccine will still need to undergo phase 2 and phase 3 trials.
For comparison Moderna’s mRNA-1273, uses chemical messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA) that contains instructions for making proteins. The vaccine instructs cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus, which the body recognizes as a foreign invader, and mounts an immune response against.
“With Omicron, there’s no way really to escape this virus. You’re not going to be able to avoid it. So I think pretty soon either the whole world will be vaccinated or have been infected,” Modjarrad said.
“We need to evaluate it in the real-world setting and try to understand how does the vaccine perform in much larger numbers of individuals who have already been vaccinated with something else initially…or already been sick,” Modjarrad said, adding that the new vaccine will still need to undergo phase 2 and phase 3 trials.
From The TradersCommunity Research Desk