Dutch research and development vaccine institute Intravacc has collaborated with Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) and Utrecht University to develop an intranasal vaccine against Covid-19.

The alliance will combine Intravacc’s vaccine development technology, WBVR’s viral vector and animal technologies, along with Utrecht University’s coronavirus expertise.

Intravacc noted that the intranasal vaccine will contain a Newcastle disease virus (NDV) vector that expresses the SARS-CoV-2’s immunogenic spike (S) protein, a key target for neutralising antibodies.

The company added that NDV demonstrated safety for intranasal or intratracheal delivery in mammals, including non-human primates.

WBVR has developed an approach called ‘reverse genetics’, which enables the genetic modification of NDV, which causes disease in birds but is said to be harmless for mammals, including humans.

Nasal vaccination is beneficial as it triggers mucosal, as well as systemic immunity, while an intramuscular vaccination mainly induces an antibody response.

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Also, intranasal vaccination may offer protection against infections at other mucosal sites such as the lungs, intestines and genital tract.

Intravacc CEO Dr Jan Groen said: “Intravacc’s strength is its ability of bridging the gap between academia and research centers towards pharma. Together with our partners WBVR and Utrecht University, we combine our expertise in developing an intranasal coronavirus vaccine.

“Our safe Vero cell platform, widely used for the production of Polio vaccines, put us in the position to fast track the production of pilot lot of this NCD vector-based vaccine concept and to subsequently transfer this to large vaccine manufactures.”

Intravacc will use its Vero cell platform to create a scalable vaccine production process.

Earlier this week, Intravacc partnered with US-based biotechnology firm EpiVax to advance a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, based on the former’s Outer Membrane Vesicles (OMV) platform.