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Covid-19: Tuberculosis vaccine could mitigate the course of coronavirus infections

Covid-19: Tuberculosis vaccine could mitigate the course of coronavirus infections


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Vaccine is tested for effectiveness in coronavirus infections

COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, is spreading internationally. Research institutes worldwide are working on the development of a vaccine against the virus. Until there is one, a vaccine developed against tuberculosis could help.

More and more people are wondering when the first vaccine against COVID-19 will be available. It was recently reported that a research institute in Israel could provide one in just a few weeks. German researchers are also working on vaccines. Until then, a remedy developed for another disease could help.

Study at several clinics in Germany

The course of the coronavirus pandemic will strongly depend on how quickly drugs or vaccines against the SARS co-virus 2 can be developed.

According to a message from the Max Planck Society (MPG), researchers now want to use at least one phase III study to investigate whether the vaccine candidate VPM1002, originally developed by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology against Tuberculosis, also has an infection SARS-CoV-2 is effective.

According to the information, the large-scale study is to be carried out at several clinics in Germany and will include older people and healthcare workers who are particularly at risk of the disease.

VPM1002 could help bridge the time to a vaccine that is specifically effective against SARS-CoV-2.

Protection against respiratory viral infections

As the MPG explains, VPM1002 is based on a vaccine called BCG developed in the early 20th century. Studies in mice show that the BCG vaccine can not only protect against tuberculosis but also against respiratory viral infections.

As a result, mice suffering from flu have fewer influenza A viruses in their blood if they have been previously vaccinated with BCG. As a result, the animals showed less damage to the lungs. According to further studies, vaccination with BCG also increases the animals' resistance to other viruses such as herpes viruses of type 1 and 2.

In addition, there are indications from the Netherlands and Great Britain that BGC as a so-called bystander vaccine could help against the new coronavirus. Vaccination with BCG apparently also activates the immune system against a virus infection. The vaccine thereby reduces the risk of serious illnesses and thus lowers the death rate.

Vaccine contains weakened tuberculosis-like bacteria

As the release says, VPM1002 contains weakened tuberculosis-like bacteria. These are genetically modified so that immune cells can recognize them better.

Originally at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin by the group led by Stefan H.E. The vaccine candidate developed by Kaufmann thus protects more effectively against tuberculosis than the old vaccine and is to be used in newborns and to refresh a vaccination in adults.

Recent studies have shown that VPM1002 can also be effective against cancer and prevent the return of bladder tumors.

Mitigate symptoms of infection with the new coronavirus better

Researchers have studied this advancement in the BCG vaccine in a number of studies in mice and several clinical studies. In 2018, for example, a phase II study confirmed that newborns tolerate VPM1002 well and that it is effective.

According to the information, the vaccine is currently being tested in a further Phase III study in adult subjects in India. This should be completed in mid 2020. "The results to date show that vaccination with VPM1002 is safe and more effective than standard vaccination with BCG," explains Stefan H.E. Merchant.

The higher safety profile of VPM1002 and the improved effectiveness give hope that the new vaccine can also alleviate the symptoms of infection with the new coronavirus better than the BCG vaccine.

"In addition, VPM1002 can be manufactured using the latest production methods," explains Adar C. Poonawalla, manufacturer and managing director of the Serum Institute of India. "Millions of cans could be made available in a very short time."

Promising talks with authorities

The partners involved, Vakzine Projekt Management (VPM) and the Serum Institute of India, have already had promising discussions with the authorities to conduct a phase III study in Germany with VPM1002 and the effectiveness of the vaccine in the elderly and healthcare workers to investigate.

"These population groups are particularly affected by the current pandemic," says Leander Grode Managing Director of VPM, "and could therefore benefit particularly from vaccination with VPM1002".

If the result is positive, according to the MPG, VPM1002 could help relieve the burden on health systems until a vaccine is available that is specifically effective against SARS-CoV-2.

The Max Planck Society granted the vaccine license to the company Vakzine Projekt Management (VPM) in 2004. From 2012, the company continued to develop the vaccine together with the Serum Institute of India, one of the largest vaccine manufacturers worldwide. The majority of VPM has now taken over this company. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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