Drug maker Zydus Cadila on Saturday said it has initiated an accelerated research programme with multiple teams in India and Europe for developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV (COVID-19) based on two approaches. The Novel Coronavirus outbreak which started in December 2019 has so far infected over 67000 people and has claimed over 1500 lives.
"The first approach deals with development of a DNA vaccine against the major viral membrane protein responsible for the cell entry of the novel coronavirus, now called COVID-19," Zydus Cadila said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The drugs major said the plasmid DNA would be introduced into the host cells, where it would be translated into the viral protein and elicit a strong immune response mediated by the cellular and humoral arms of the human immune system, which play a vital role in protection from disease as well as viral clearance.
The second approach deals with development of a live attenuated recombinant measles virus vectored vaccine against COVID-19, the company said. The recombinant measles virus (rMV) produced by reverse genetics would express codon-optimised proteins of the novel coronavirus and will induce long-term specific neutralizing antibodies, which will provide protection from the infection, it added.
Commenting on the development, Chairman of the Zydus Group, Pankaj R. Patel said, "There is an urgent and pressing need to develop a safe and efficacious vaccine that can prevent the spread of this deadly virus. Our researchers are working to bring a speedy solution to this most devastating outbreak in recent times."
The group claimed that it was the first to develop and indigenously manufacture the vaccine to combat Swine Flu during outbreak in 2010. The group's research arm in Europe, Etna Biotech is working on measles reverse genetics technology which has been used earlier to successfully develop the SARS-vaccine, it said. The vaccines developed through this platform are safe, efficacious and large doses can be manufactured for which Zydus already has production facilities in place, it added.
By Chitranjan Kumar