The Pasteur Institute, a world reference in medical research, seeks to redeem itself from the failure of its first candidate for a vaccine against COVID-19 and has taken a new step in the development of a nasal application against the disease.
The scientific director of the institution, Christophe D’Enfert, in an interview with EFE, also explained that they are behind the conception of a drug based on monoclonal antibodies to stop COVID.
The nasal vaccine project has just completed pre-clinical trials with animals and Pasteur is now working on a hypothetical start of phase 1 and 2 clinical trials with humans.
“It is a vaccine that can stimulate the production of antibodies and the immune response of cells. It can be applied intranasally, which can facilitate its use and seems to protect against the different variants,” said D’Enfert.
The laboratory associated with Pasteur is involved in the work of the nasal immunizer, which would be based on “the use of viruses of the HIV family to have the possibility of producing the spike protein (protein S)” to elicit the immune response.
“We would love to be able to accelerate the project in the coming months,” he said. The director considered, however, very early to give a precise calendar on when it could be ready: “We have finished the preclinical phases and we are in the process of reflection before entering the clinical phases.”
In addition, he considered that before proposing it, the panorama of the epidemic, with the emergence of variants, would also have to be taken into consideration, to be in accordance with the needs for vaccines in the world.
“In 2020 you had to go very fast, perhaps a little without reflecting on aspects of vaccine strategy, market, but you had to find a vaccine, it was essential, and what has been done has been fantastic at all levels in just one year. Now we are in another moment, “he said.
The French Pasteur Institute, one of the main centers for research on vaccines in the world where the vaccine that protects against rabies was devised in the 19th century, has not been successful so far in devising its own anticovid immunizer.
The United States, the United Kingdom, China and Russia, who share a table in the permanent UN Security Council with France, have their vaccine. Also neighboring Germany.
“It was not a project that lacked funding or knowledge. What happened is that we chose a candidate who was not the right one,” he assumed.
Pasteur is also behind a therapeutic approach against COVID, although still in an embryonic stage.
“We have identified a monoclonal antibody that can be used in preclinical models to prevent the development of COVID. It allows not only to protect against the original strain, but also against the variants,” he said.
According to D’Enfert, the objective would be to artificially produce this type of antibodies found in convalescent people, whose leukocyte cells produce them against the spike proteins of the coronavirus.
“With a biotechnological approach, we can produce these antibodies in a research process that we began in April 2020,” he said.
The director of Pasteur warned that surely other pandemics will break out in the future. “It is not a question of pessimism, in 20 years we have had seven major epidemic outbreaks.”
“We have lived through a pandemic like COVID with the Spanish flu for 100 years. Perhaps in the next 5 or 10 years we will not see one like this, but we must not exclude that there are some situations that lead us to a new one.”
For D’Enfert, the important thing is to be prepared to prevent a localized epidemic from turning into a pandemic.