Rocketvax and Basel University therapy uses a modified coronavirus that activates an immune response

Rocketvax and researchers at the University of Basel have linked up to develop a new approach for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers led by Professor Thomas Klimkait at the University of Basel, in collaboration with Rocketvax, are now showcasing a vaccine concept that may lead to a new generation of vaccines against COVID-19.

The therapy involves a modified coronavirus that enters the body’s cells, activating an effective immune response, without multiplying in the body. Across animal studies, the vaccine effectively protected against the disease, while also preventing virus transmission.

A mechanism of action for the single-cycle virus concept has been duly confirmed and preclinical studies will now establish the clinical candidate.

The aim is also to administer the vaccination by nose, while the research team is planning to finalise the preclinical development with a possible human clinical trial involving a cohort of subjects in Switzerland.

Klimkait reflected on the development: “Among other things, we remove a specific gene from the blueprint for the viral envelope. No new virus particles can be formed if this envelope component is missing.”

He added: “Yet, the body cells still produce the remaining components of the virus and present them on their surface to the immune system, which recognises the viral components and builds up effective and long-lasting immune protection.”

Dr Vladimir Cmiljanovic, chief executive officer of Rocketvax AG, concluded: "The positive test results are an important step in the development of a safe and easy-to-administer vaccine that can be quickly adapted to new virus variants."

Although COVID-19 vaccines have been available since 2021, COVID-19 continues to spread, with new variants regularly emerging. Newly developed vaccines that are easy to store, administer and that build up effective immune protection are an essential step in keeping the virus under control.

The researchers have applied for a patent on the vaccination system.