Studies show promising results for new Oxford COVID-19 vaccine

© Chayakorn Lotongkum

Studies show that the new Oxford-produced RBD-SpyVLP COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong antibody response in mice and pigs

Studies carried out by the Pirbright Institute and the University of Oxford have found that the new Oxford-produced RBD-SpyVLP vaccine presents strong antibody response in mice and pigs.

RBD-SpyVLP is hoped to be used as a standalone vaccine against COVID-19 or as a booster for individuals primed with an alternative vaccine.

The vaccine contains part of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein called the receptor-binding domain (RBD). RBD is a range of protective neutralising antibodies that can bind to in a way that blocks infection.

The RBD is attached to a virus-like particle (VLP) that contains no genetic material using Oxford’s SpyTag or SpyCatcher technology and was shown to generate a greater antibody response in mice than administering the RBD alone.

Pirbright researchers then tested the RBD-SpyVLP vaccine in pigs, to establish if different dosages would affect the immune response, and found a strong neutralising antibody response.

The researchers also tested the stability of the vaccine and found that RBD-SpyVLP is highly resilient, is stable at room temperature and can be freeze-dried without losing its power to immunise.

Professor Simon Graham (Pirbright Institute website), who led the pig studies at Pirbright, said:

“These results offer valuable insights into the kind of immune responses that the RBD-SpyVLP vaccine could trigger in humans.

“Further understanding the dose required to elicit a strong immune response is key for the progression of vaccine development and scaling up for manufacture.”

Professor Graham Ogg, Interim Director of the Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit (MRC HIU), remarked:

“I am delighted about the promising progress of the novel vaccine study, which is a result of a large collaborative effort including Professor Alain Townsend’s team at the MRC HIU, MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford and The Pirbright Institute.

“The findings provide the foundations to progress towards further exciting developments.”


The study has been published in Nature Communications

The research has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)


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