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Why an Israeli company develops a “needle-free vaccine” against the coronavirus

Imagine a coronavirus vaccine in pill form: no needles, no need for medical professionals to administer it, delivered directly to people’s homes.

Israeli Pharmaceutical Oramed Is Trying To Accomplish Just That, And Is Ready To Go its first clinical trial in early August, CEO Nadav Kidron told AFP in an interview.

With just the 15% of the world population fully vaccinated, the fight to end the pandemic is far from over.

Oral vaccines they are particularly attractive for the developing world, because they reduce the logistical burden of immunization campaigns, Kidron said.

But also could increase acceptance in rich countries, where aversion to needles is an often overlooked factor.

A recent survey found that nearly 19 million Americans Those who reject vaccines would take them if they had a pill option.

The use

“For the vaccine to work really well, we need as many people as possible to take it“Kidron said.

Other benefits include reducing plastic and syringe wastes, and potentially fewer side effects.

Despite numerous theoretical advantages, there have been few successful oral vaccines because the active ingredients tend not to survive transit through the gastrointestinal tract.

Exceptions include vaccines for diseases that are transmitted through the mouth and digestive system; exists, for example, an effective oral polio vaccine.

Oramed, which was founded in 2006, believe you have overcome technical hurdles by designing a capsule that survives the highly acidic environment of the intestine.

He invented his technology for an earlier product, an experimental form of oral insulin, the vital drug required by diabetics. that until now had only been administered by injection.

Development

Developed with Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Avram Hershko, who sits on the scientific advisory board for Oramed, the company’s capsule has a highly protective coating which causes it to slowly degrade.

It also releases molecules called protease inhibitors that prevent enzymes in the small intestine from breaking down insulin and an absorption enhancer to help insulin pass into the bloodstream.

This drug has been administered to hundreds of patients in late-stage clinical trials in the United States, and Results are expected in September 2022.

Oramed has launched a new majority-owned company called Oravax, which takes capsule technology from the oral insulin product and He uses it for an oral vaccine against COVID-19.

To elicit an immune response, the company’s scientists have designed synthetic coronavirus-like particles that mimic three key structures of the pathogen: the spike protein, the envelope protein, and the membrane protein.

Most of the currently licensed vaccines, such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca, are based only on peak protein, making them less protective over time as the coronavirus spike protein mutates.

By targeting multiple parts of the virus, including structures that mutate the least, the Oravax vaccine might be more resistant to the variants, Kidron said.

The company has submitted an application for start testing in multiple countries and plans to start the first in Israel in a few weeks, pending approval from the Ministry of Health.

If the pill vaccine is successful, it would also represent a test for future vaccines administered orally, Kidron noted.

“Imagine … the flu shot comes to you in the mail, you take it and that’s it”.

AFP Agency

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