Imperial College London's COVID-19 vaccine trial is being expanding to additional sites throughout England.
From next week, the ground-breaking vaccine, which has received more than £40m in Government funding and £5m in philanthropic donations, will be trialled in six additional centres.
The vaccine will be trialled in more than 200 people across six locations: Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, St George’s University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, University College London NHS Foundation Trust, and two others in England to be announced over the coming week.
The Imperial vaccine, which uses self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) technology, has so far been trialled in 92 volunteers. Participants at these new trial sites must be aged 18-75, and will receive two immunisations, four weeks apart.
The Imperial vaccine is based on a new approach that uses a self-amplifying RNA platform. Once injected into muscle, the RNA self amplifies and instructs the body’s own cells to make copies of the spike protein found on the outside of the virus, thereby triggering the immune system.
If the trials succeed, the Imperial vaccine may be uniquely able to deliver effective doses from relatively low volumes of the vaccine and lends itself to rapid scale-up in manufacturing at a relatively low cost.
Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading the development of Imperial’s COVID-19 vaccine, said: “The early results from pre-clinical data have been promising, and the expansion of our trial to additional centres will provide further data on the safety of the vaccine, and the immune response.”
As part of the vaccine development, Imperial has formed a new social enterprise, VacEquity Global Health (VGH), in partnership with Morningside Ventures, to rapidly develop vaccines and distribute them as widely as possible in the UK and overseas, including to low- and middle-income countries.