Maryland-based biopharmaceutical company Altimmune (NASDAQ: ALT) has partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to develop its single-dose intranasal vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The vaccine, AdCOVID, is “currently preparing for immunogenicity studies and manufacture of Phase 1 clinical trial material.” UAB investigators will collaborate with Altimmune on preclinical studies in animal models to characterize the effects of the vaccine on the immune system “with the goal of enabling a Phase 1 trial in Q3 of this year.”
Altimmune has previously developed intranasal vaccines for respiratory pathogens, including “NasoVAX, a seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine candidate,” and “NasoShield, a vaccine candidate for inhalation anthrax.” A $133.7 million contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is currently supporting the development of NasoShield.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Altimmune Dr. Vipin K. Garg, PhD, stated, “It is critical that the biotechnology industry and academic institutions work together to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and UAB is an ideal partner to support us in this effort.”
“UAB has an impressive track record of cutting-edge research in virology and immunology, as well as in the clinical development of vaccines. In fact, Altimmune was founded through a technology license from UAB in 1997. We are excited to collaborate with UAB in our efforts and look forward to addressing this crisis together,” Dr. Gard continued.
Charles H McCauley Professor and Chair for the UAB Department of Microbiology Dr. Frances E Lund, PhD, stated, “We are eager to collaborate with Altimmune on this important project. The expertise and infrastructure at UAB will be invaluable to the rapid progression of this vaccine into clinical studies.”
The collaboration with Altimmune will include six laboratories at the UAB. “This project will be our highest priority for the group in the next few months as the goal is to get the data to Altimmune as rapidly as possible, so that they will use the information gained from the preclinical study to design their clinical trial in people,” said Dr. Lund.
The UAB has previously participated in clinical studies sponsored by the Vaccine Evaluation and Trial Unit, a branch of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
According to Altimmune, their proprietary intranasal vaccine technology will provide AdCOVID with “the potential to activate multiple arms of the immune system as shown in a recent Phase 2 clinical study with NasoVAX, an influenza vaccine candidate based on the same platform technology.” The phase 2 trial demonstrated “potent stimulation of mucosal and cellular immune responses in addition to a strong serum antibody response.”
“In addition, our platform vaccines (NasoVAX and NasoShield) have shown an excellent stability profile and, when combined with the simple intranasal route of administration, may allow for efficient and inexpensive distribution of the vaccine,” Altimmune stated.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham “is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center, as well as Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $7 billion on the state. The pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, innovation and economic development, community engagement, and patient care.”