UK-based Scancell has received funding from Innovate UK through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to fund the Phase I study of its Covid-19 vaccine. The funding has been estimated at £2m, which should cover the majority of the development and Phase I costs.

Scancell’s Covid-19 vaccine is a DNA candidate that targets dendritic cells to stimulate a potent T cell response. The vaccine also targets both the SARS-CoV-2 virus’ nucleocapsid and spike protein.

It builds on the company’s ImmunoBody cancer vaccine, SCIB1, which is showing successful results in an ongoing Phase I/II trial.

Scancell CEO Dr Cliff Holloway noted: “We are delighted that Innovate UK has chosen to support our novel COVID-19 vaccine.

“This funding will allow us to accelerate progress towards our planned Phase 1 clinical trial, COVIDITY.

“Although other vaccines are already in clinical trials, we believe that our approach could result in a second generation vaccine with more potent and long-lasting responses, particularly in the elderly, leading to better protection against COVID-19.”

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Scancell chief scientific officer Professor Lindy Durrant added: “T cells, and particularly high avidity T cells, are becoming increasingly recognised as an important factor in vaccine design for inducing long-term immunity against SARS CoV-2.

“Patients who had recovered from the original 2003 SARS infection have measurable T cell responses many years following recovery.

“We have been able to translate our ability to stimulate high avidity T cells to treat melanoma into a vaccine that can potentially provide an effective and durable immune response to COVID-19.”