Imperial College London is set to conduct small clinical trials of inhaled versions of Covid-19 vaccines developed by researchers and the University of Oxford.
The trials, funded by UKRI-NIHR, will test the safety and efficacy of giving the vaccines as airborne droplets inhaled by a participant through the mouth.
The vaccines are currently undergoing clinical trials as intramuscular formulations.
With the inhaled vaccines, direct action on the cells lining the airways is expected to elicit a more effective immune response against the virus. The aim is to stimulate a localised and more specialised immune response.
A total of 30 participants are expected to be enrolled for the trials, with low, medium and high doses of the vaccine being evaluated.
Investigators will test blood and nasal samples, along with bronchoscopy samples from deeper parts of the lung in order to analyse the effects in the lower respiratory tract.
Blood samples will be tested for the presence of neutralising antibodies and T cells, while nasal samples will be checked for the presence of IgA antibodies found in the nose and throat.
Project lead Dr Chris Chiu said: “We have evidence that delivering influenza vaccines via a nasal spray can protect people against flu as well as help to reduce the transmission of the disease.
“We are keen to explore if this may also be the case for SARS-CoV-2 and whether delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the respiratory tract is safe and produces an effective immune response.”
In a separate development, a large-scale randomised clinical trial, RECOVERY, which is led by the University of Oxford in the UK, is set to test Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ anti-viral antibody cocktail, REGN-COV2, to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
The trial will assess REGN-COV2 plus usual standard-of-care compared to standard-of-care alone in a total of around 4,000 patients. REGN-COV2 is said to be the first specifically designed Covid-19 treatment evaluated by RECOVERY.