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Danish coronavirus vaccine passes test in mice

Ali Salanti

A vaccine against COVID-19, developed by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, has been tested in mice and shows promising results.

A team of researchers from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen have reached an important milestone in their efforts to develop a virus against COVID-19. They have spent the past two months testing the vaccine in mice and the results are promising, the researchers say.

“We have tested the vaccine in mice and achieved positive immune responses. It is an important step on the way. It is vital we are able to present these results, because it means we can continue as planned. Without these results we would not have been able to proceed,” says Professor Ali Salanti.

Capsid Virus-Like Particle

The technology used by the researchers is called cVLP, which stands for ‘capsid Virus-Like Particle’. So-called coronavirus antigens are attached to the cVLP. Subsequently, the body’s immune system will respond to the antigens, produce antibodies and thus hopefully become immune to the disease. This has now been achieved in mice.

After getting the vaccine, the mice produced large amounts of antibodies able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 virus. The amount and quality of these vaccine-induced antibodies have been tested directly on SARS-CoV-2 virus in two independently laboratories headed by Professor Søren Riis Paludan at Aarhus University and Professor Marjolein Kikkert, Leiden University Medical Center, which are part of the consortium Prevent-nCov.

“It is important to be able to produce a lot of doses of vaccine and at low cost, if possible. The data available to us right now show that we are able to produce millions of doses in relatively small bioreactors,” says Associate Professor Morten Agertoug Nielsen.

The actual response is several hundred times stronger than for antigen vaccines not involving the cVLP. And according to the researchers, the capacity of the blood of the mice to neutralize virus is significantly greater than seen in COVID-19 vaccines published by other researchers and companies.

The Prevent-nCov consortium

The work on the vaccine is conducted together with the Prevent-nCov consortium, which the researchers are a part of. The consortium has received a DKK 20-million grant from the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The team has also received a DKK 25-million grant from the Carlsberg Foundation and DKK five million from the Gudbjørg and Ejnar Honoré Foundation for developing the vaccine.

The researchers hope to commence clinical trials before the end of the year.

Photo of Ali Salanti. Photographer: Kristian Brasen