Antibodies generated in mice were more than 90% efficient in preventing human ACE2 receptor binding to the coronavirus
A team of scientists at the Atal Incubation Centre (AIC) at CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, has indigenously developed a potential mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
“The current war with Covid-19 had brought to light many vaccine technologies and India’s vaccine programme is highly lauded. However, we lacked the potent mRNA vaccine technology, as developed by Moderna or Pfizer/BioNtech to combat Covid-19 in the US and Europe,’‘ Madhusudhana Rao, CEO, AIC-CCMB, and the lead scientist of the project, told newspersons here on Friday.
The technology developed by AIC-CCMB is different from the mRNA vaccine being developed by Gennova Bio which is based on self-replicating RNA, Rao added.
The AIC-CCMB team were able to establish mRNA vaccine technology and develop a home-grown mRNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 in less than a year since the inception of the project.
“Even though Covid-19 is waning, the vaccine platform holds promise for many infectious diseases that India faces,’‘ Rao said.
“This a proof-of-principle wherein we have shown that we can replicate the mRNA vaccine technology end-to-end. The beauty of this technology is in its modularity and rapid turn-around times. That means that with significantly less efforts, the developed technology can be used to sire vaccines for other infectious diseases like dengue, tuberculosis or malaria,” said Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CCMB.
CSIR, the largest research and development organisation in the Ministry of Science and Technology, India, has taken prescient initiatives to establish capacities within India in modern health technologies as part of its program on self-reliance, he added.
Pre-clinical challenge studies
Rajesh Iyer, a scientist involved in the project at AIC-CCMB, said, “We observed robust immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein in mice upon administration of two doses of the mRNA. The anti-spike antibodies generated were found to be more than 90 per cent efficient in preventing the human ACE2 receptor binding to the coronavirus.”
mRNA vaccine technology does this by introducing an mRNA of the micro-organism of concern. This mRNA in the host cells gives rise to the microbial protein, or a part of it, which trains the immune system to evade infection when it happens with the same live micro-organism.
Currently, the vaccine candidate of CCMB is undergoing pre-clinical challenge studies to evaluate its efficacy to protect against live virus infection.