The Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) has joined hands with Griffith University of Australia to conduct exploratory research to develop a lead vaccine candidate for coronavirus.
The IIL-Griffith combine is the fourth Indian biotech company, after Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech, to join 60-plus research initiatives worldwide to develop a vaccine against the virus, which has so far killed over 55,000 globally.
IIL said scientists of the company and Griffith University will develop a 'Live Attenuated SARS - CoV-2 vaccine' using the latest codon de-optimisation technology. Upon completion of the research, the vaccine strain will be transferred to Indian Immunologicals and the vaccine maker will work accordingly with the country's regulator - Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation - to further conduct clinical trials which will be taken up in a phased manner. IIL intends to use its existing Vero cell platform technology for mass production of the virus.
IIL, India's largest veterinary biologicals and the third largest animal health drug maker, is already working with Griffith University, Australia for conducting research and development of a Zika virus vaccine, which is currently at pre-clinical toxicology testing stage.
"IIL has taken up this initiative to develop a vaccine candidate for the pandemic - COVID-19. IIL's leadership in producing safe and affordable human and veterinary vaccines will enable us to progress well in this endeavor," said K Anand Kumar, Managing Director. After evaluating various options being followed across the world, the partners decided to develop a Live Attenuated Covid-19 vaccine based on codon de-optimization technology, according to Dr Prasanna Deshpande, deputy managing director, IIL.
The technology looks promising for developing a vaccine for prophylactic, active, single dose immunisation against coronavirus in humans, with an enhanced safety profile. The vaccine is expected to provide long-lasting protection with a single dose administration with an anticipated safety profile similar to other licensed vaccines for active immunisation, said IIL.
The live attenuated vaccines have a very strong cellular and antibody immune responses against the virus and a proven track record for economical large-scale manufacturing and well-known regulatory approval pathway, according to Professor Suresh Mahalingam, Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Australia. Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MHIQ) is the largest health research institute of Griffith University and is known for its multi-disciplinary health research.
Indian Immunologicals Limited is already working with Griffith University, Australia for conducting research and development of Zika virus vaccine which is currently at pre-clinical toxicology testing stage. The joint project has been progressing well and Indian Immunologicals Limited is expected to submit the application for conducting clinical trials in due course.