India approves world’s first DNA COVID vaccine

pharmafile | August 23, 2021 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

Regulators in India have approved the world’s first DNA vaccine against COVID-19, ZyCoV-D, which has been developed by Cadila Healthcare.

The firm plans to make up to 120 million doses of India’s second home-grown vaccine every year.

Cadila Healthcare said it had conducted the largest clinical trial for the vaccine in India so far, involving 28,000 volunteers in more than 50 centres.

This is also the first time, the firm claimed, a COVID-19 vaccine had been tested in young people in India – 1,000 people belonging to the 12-18 age group. The jab was found to be “safe and very well tolerated” in this age group.

Like other vaccines, a DNA vaccine, once administered, teaches the body’s immune system to fight the real virus. ZyCoV-D uses plasmids or small rings of DNA, that contain genetic information, to deliver the jab between two layers of the skin.

The plasmids carry information to the cells to make the spike protein, which the virus uses to latch on and enter human cells.

Most COVID-19 vaccines work by giving the body instructions to make a fragment of the spike protein so it can trigger a person’s immune system to produce antibodies and teach itself to fight off the virus.

There are a number of DNA vaccines approved in the US, for example, for use in animals, including a vaccine for a disease in horses and a skin cancer vaccine for dogs.

However, more than 160 different DNA vaccines are being tested in human clinical trials in the US. Most are devoted to treating existing cancers, and a third of the vaccines were for treating HIV.

ZyCov-D is also India’s first needle-free COVID-19 jab, it is administered with a disposable needle-free injector, which uses a narrow stream of the fluid to penetrate the skin and deliver the jab to the proper tissue.

mRNA vaccines – which use messenger RNA, a molecule, to make the proteins – like Pfizer or Moderna do not need to reach the nucleus of the cell to be effective and offer higher efficacy and are likely to produce longer lasting immunity.

The other potential drawback is that ZyCoV-D requires three doses, instead of two for the other two candidates being used in India. The vaccine maker says it is evaluating at a two-dose jab.

Kat Jenkins

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