In the almost total silence from the media, research on new vaccines is advancing. At the University of Milan, pre-clinical experiments are proceeding on LeCoVax2: this is the name of the product developed in collaboration with VisMederi Research. The work is coordinated as a team by Claudio Bandi, Sara Epis and Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti of the Pediatric Research Center “Romeo and Enrica Invernizzi” of the University of Milan, in collaboration with Emanuele Montomoli, scientific director of VisMederi Research srl and professor at the University of Siena.
The peculiarities of LeCoVax2 are many: the production of the protein takes place outside the human body; the oral administration of the vaccine is being tested; above all, no use of cell lines of fetal origin is envisaged. No abortion will therefore be necessary to produce it. In conversation with Pro Vita & Famiglia, Professor Bandi, professor of Parasitic Diseases at the Department of Biosciences and coordinator of the Platform of Genomic Epidemiology and Experimental Microbiology at the Pediatric Research Center “Romeo and Enrica Invernizzi”, illustrated a project for which we proceed with great caution but with reasonable hopes of success.
Professor Bandi, where is your research on LeCoVax2?
“The research is in the pre-clinical phase, that is, we have not yet reached human experimentation, for which a few more months will be needed. It is likely that we will have to live with this virus for several months, perhaps for a few years, so it will be appropriate to have different vaccine preparations. Ours is a relatively small research group, we have neither the size, nor the economic availability and speed of action of a multinational drug company. But we are developing a very promising preparation. The completion of the current phase should be completed by the end of November, after which we will sum up and evaluate whether it will be possible to move on to the clinical phase.”
What are the key differences between yours and current vaccines, especially messenger RNA vaccines?
“The types of vaccine used at the moment are essentially two: messenger RNA and viral vector. In the first case, messenger RNAs are administered which, in our cells, will lead to the “construction” of the virus proteins that will act as antigen, determining the immune response. Viral vector vaccines, such as AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, provide for the entry of DNA into cells; from the DNA will derive the RNA on which the virus protein will be synthesized.
“n our case, we have a production of the protein that occurs outside the human being, and is then inoculated. In this regard, we are studying two possibilities: either the “purified” administration of the product or the administration of the protein associated with the microorganism that produces it, the Leishmania tarentolae, which, given its characteristics, should enhance the immune response. It’s a different approach, in the sense that in-use vaccines require the virus protein to be actually synthesized by our cells. In the approach we have chosen – which is actually already used and well established – the protein is produced outside.”
Isn’t the use of cells from aborted fetuses therefore envisaged?
“In this case, the cells we have at our disposal are the cells of a microorganism, a non-pathogenic Leishmania , which would be administered inactivated (ie non-viable) or even fragmented. So we absolutely do not use anything that has to do with material of fetal origin….”
The above comes from a translated July 29 story on the Aldo Maria Valli blog.