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UK skin patch vaccine ‘could work against all Covid variants’


Abingdon-based company trialling micro-needle vaccine in Switzerland says it should be effective against Omicron variant

An Oxfordshire-based company that is developing a Covid-19 vaccine delivered through a small skin patch, rather than an injection, has said its vaccine candidate could tackle all known coronavirus variants.

Emergex, located in Abingdon, said its vaccine had “the potential to be effective against all currently sequenced viral mutations”, including those in the Omicron variant.

This is because Emergex uses “highly conserved viral peptides in its vaccine candidate, reducing the chance of viral mutations that would impact vaccine efficacy”, and the vaccine is designed to “provide long-lasting and broad, cross-reactive immunity that does not require a seasonal booster”.

‘Longer-lasting immunity’

“Our T-cell priming vaccines have been designed to offer significant benefits over current Covid-19 vaccines, including broader protection against new variants and longer-lasting immunity,” said Thomas Rademacher, the firm’s founder.

“The emergence of the latest variant highlights the potential importance of such an approach in managing a dynamically changing pandemic situation,” he added. “We look forward to continuing to gather data to support the development of this important next-generation vaccine.”

The firm said it had initiated a phase one trial of the vaccine candidate at the Center for Primary Care and Public Health at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, with the first patient expected to receive their first dose at the start of January 2022.

The vaccine has been designed for delivery via micro-needles pressed onto the skin, an approach that could be adapted for use in a small skin patch, making administration of the vaccine “more patient-friendly”.

“We are currently in Phase 1 clinical trials using micro-needle technology, patches are in development and are ideally suited to this application,” Robin Cohen, chief commercial officer at Emergex, told Research Professional News.

The vaccine is also said to be stable at ambient room temperature for months, “facilitating rapid and efficient distribution across the world”.