The entire world is racing to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Multiple pharmaceutical companies, startups, and test labs are working around the globe to come up with a vaccine. One such company is a humble startup from Europe called Takis Biotech. The Italian startup has been working on a vaccine for COVID-19 and has now announced a new milestone in its journey. 

Takis Biotech produces coronavirus neutralising antibodies in test animals

Takis Biotech pivoted from working on developing cancer treatments to coronavirus vaccine. It has been working on the vaccine since late January. Now, it has announced that the first injections of the DNA vaccine candidates have produced neutralising antibodies in test animals. The injections are tested against the Spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. The next phase of trials is slated to begin this week by the startups’ manufacturing partner, Applied DNA Sciences Inc.

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“We are proud of the rapid achievements with our Joint Partners in the fight to vanquish COVID-19 through its Spike protein and corresponding gene,” says Dr. James Hayward, CEO of Applied DNA Sciences. “The candidate vaccine constructs lend themselves to rapid manufacturing, and the potential for low-dose vaccination could enhance the power of our platform in a global pandemic, by requiring less manufacturing to vaccinate a given population size. Moreover, the simplicity of our joint approach empowers a technical response to viral mutations within days or weeks. We are especially aware of the irony of collaborating from New York and Rome, two locations so badly struck by COVID-19.”

Vaccine studies happened at the Lazzaro Spallanzani 

Studies for the testing were done at the renowned Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome. Spallanzani was among the first to obtain and sequence the novel coronavirus. It also developed unique models for the assessment of vaccines. Dr, Luigi Aurisicchio, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at Takis, says, “Thanks to the Spallanzani’s skills, as far as we know, we are among the first in the world to have demonstrated the neutralization of the coronavirus by a vaccine. We believe this will also happen in humans.”

Will Takis Biotech win the COVID-19 vaccine race?

As per the World Health Organisation, there are 5 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation. Four of these trials are in phase 1 and one is already in phase 2.  The one furthest along is by CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, which is in Phase II. The Boston biopharma company Moderna was in phase 1 and it recently received FDA approval to move into phase 2 of the trials. 

Additionally, there are 71 vaccines for COVID-19 in development worldwide that are currently in the preclinical evaluation phase. Takis Biotech is doing great work, but it is still a bit behind. Takis is now expected to enter pre-clinical and human trials. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t win the race since it will all come down to testing and evaluating how the vaccine works.

Main image credits: Shutterstock

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