Cambridge prepares for needle-free COVID vaccine

Recruitment is underway in Cambridge for volunteers to take part in clinical trials of a revolutionary new needle-free vaccine to protect against SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and related coronaviruses.

The vaccine – known as DIOS-CoVax – has been developed by professor Jonathan Heeney at the University of Cambridge and spin-out company DIOSynVax. It is envisaged as a booster targeting SARS-CoV-2 and relatives that threaten future coronavirus pandemics.

This next generation vaccine is administered through a needle-free ‘injection’ – a blast of air that delivers it into the skin. It has already been part of safety trials conducted at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, but now recruitment is being expanded to Cambridge.

Professor Heeney said: “We’re excited to be bringing our vaccine ‘home’ and are looking to recruit healthy volunteers to help in this crucial stage of development towards what we hope will eventually become a universal coronavirus vaccine.”

“Our vaccine is innovative, both in terms of how it aims to protect against thevirus responsible for our current pandemic and future coronaviruses, but also in how it is delivered. If you’re someone who hates needles, our vaccine could be the answer as it’s delivered by a jet of air, not a needle.”

If the clinical trials are successful, the vaccine could be scaled up and manufactured as a powder to boost global vaccination efforts, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The clinical trials team at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is looking for healthy volunteers aged 18-50 to take part in the study.

Funding for the development of the vaccine has come from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

DIOSynVax is a spin-out company from the University of Cambridge, established in 2017 with the support of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation arm. Professor Heeney is a fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge.

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