Researchers worldwide are racing to develop a vaccine against the Sars Cov 2 virus. The faster an active ingredient is found, the faster the crisis is over. The Riehen researcher Peter Burkhard and his start-up Alpha-O Peptides, which specializes in the development of vaccines, may face a breakthrough.
As the “Basler Zeitung” reported on Wednesday, the company is already testing the first vaccine with animal experiments. Burkhard has been developing since mid-January. When news of the surge in corona deaths spread around the world in Wuhan, he knew that time was running out.
Decades of experience help
The 57-year-old biochemist, who also held a professorship at the University of Connecticut in the USA, had the concept of self-assembling protein nanoparticles (SAPN) patented in 2003. With this procedure, he has already developed a malaria vaccine that is currently in clinical phase I / IIa in the USA.
Within a week, he created the protein nanoparticles using standardized methods in the laboratory. He is now sending his SAPN vaccine to a company that is carrying out the first animal experiments with it. The first immunizations should be completed in early April. “Thanks to my decades of experience in the field of vaccine development, I was able to work very efficiently,” Burkhard told BaZ.
All crucial tests are just coming
However, animal testing is only the first step in vaccine development. First, it must be checked whether the antibodies from the animal serum really bind to the virus and block it. He will carry out the experiments on virus neutralization with Volker Thiel, Professor of Virology at the University of Bern. If these are successful, clinical trials can begin. For this, Burkhard would like to work with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel. In order to speed up the approval process, he is already in discussion with Swissmedic and the FDA.
“We are very far with the development of the vaccine,” said Burkhard. If the upcoming tests are positive, they are probably the first to have demonstrated the effectiveness of a Covid-19 vaccine in animal models.
Zurich startup needs fresh blood
Meanwhile, the Zurich start-up Memo Therapeutics is working on a drug. For the development, the company is looking for people who are already suffering from Covid-19 and are healthy again after a difficult course. You should donate blood. Antibodies are present in your blood. The researchers hope that rare, highly effective B cells can also be found among them, which are suitable for the production of the correct antibody. The startup hopes to find a therapeutic agent within five months.
Potential donors are asked to contact [email protected]