A promising new vaccine that has been developed by UK researchers will be supported through pre-clinical and clinical trials to determine if it is safe and effective.
The researchers will also be funded to develop manufacturing processes for producing the vaccines at a million-dose scale, so that - if clinical trials are successful – a vaccine could be made available to high-risk groups as quickly as possible.
Patients hospitalised in the NHS with COVID-19 are taking part in a new clinical trial to test therapies, starting with lopinavir-ritonavir and low-dose corticosteroids.
Other projects will develop new therapeutic antibodies and screen hundreds of existing drugs in the lab to find ones that show promise against the novel coronavirus.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The UK’s world-leading researchers have already made vital contributions to the understanding and responses to this pandemic’’
This research funding has been coordinated with other funders and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure there is not duplication of effort and expertise is applied strategically.
Dr Kenneth Baillie University of Edinburgh, Prof. Peter Openshaw Imperial College London, & Prof. Calum Semple University of Liverpool – £4.9 million
They will collect samples and data from COVID-19 patients in the UK to answer many urgent questions about the virus and provide real-time information, which could help to control the outbreak and improve treatment for patients.
Their questions include: who in the population is at higher risk of severe illness; what is the best way to diagnose the disease; what is happening in their immune systems to help or harm them etc.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, University of Oxford – £2.2 million
The team are already developing a new vaccine against the COVID-19, as they initiated vaccine development as soon as the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus was released.
The vaccine is made from a harmless virus, an adenovirus, which has been altered to produce the surface spike protein of the coronavirus after vaccination, to prime the immune system to recognise and attack the coronavirus.
The vaccine utilises the same technique as a vaccine the team previously developed for the closely related MERS coronavirus, which showed promise in animal and early-stage human testing.
Professor Peter Horby, University of Oxford – £2.1 million
A clinical trial started last week in the UK to test if existing or new drugs can help patients hospitalised with confirmed COVID-19. The trial will have an ‘adaptive’ design, meaning it can test new therapies as they become available. The first two therapies to be tested will be: lopinavir-ritonavir and low-dose corticosteroids.
Professor Xiao-Ning Xu, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Imperial College London – £0.6 million
The researchers will develop antibodies that target the novel coronavirus with the aim of developing a new therapy for COVID-19.
They have already identified some antibodies that might bind to proteins from the COVID-19 coronavirus. the scientists will use these in this project to develop a potential antibody therapy, with the aim of getting the therapy to the stage where it is ready to enter clinical trials to determine if it can treat a range of coronavirus infections including the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Dr Sandy Douglas, University of Oxford – £0.4 million
The team are aiming to develop manufacturing processes for producing adenovirus vaccines at a million-dose scale, so that - if clinical trials are successful – a vaccine could be made available to high-risk groups as quickly as possible.