Italian researchers claim they have developed the first vaccine showing the potential to kill coronavirus.
It has been tested on mice, which produced antibodies that were then harvested.
Scientists said that preliminary results from lab tests showed the antibodies could stop human cells from being infected.
Chief executive Luigi Aurisicchio said his team plans to start human trials in the autumn.
Mr Aurisicchio said this week: ‘This is the most advanced stage of testing of a candidate vaccine created in Italy.
Takis Biotech is developing the vaccine, According to Spallanzani Hospital, as far as we know we are the first in the world so far to have demonstrated a neutralization of the coronavirus by a vaccine. ‘We expect this to happen in humans too.’ His team tried out five different potential vaccines on mice at Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. All were based on DNA with the method involving injecting a small amount of the virus’s cloned genetic code into the body. An immune response is triggered as the vaccine is taken up into cells,
but health is not put at risk.
Each vaccine candidate produced a ‘strong antibody response’ in 14 days, researchers said, with two singled out as the ‘best candidates’. After this, antibodies were taken from the blood of the mice and added to human cells grown in a petri dish.
When the SARS-CoV-2 was added, researchers said the antibodies successfully prevented it from binding to the human cells.
But other scientists were sceptical about the potential about how far they had progressed towards a working vaccine in humans, saying it was likely other researchers had created a similar antibody response in mice.
Professor Adam Finn, of Bristol Children’s Vaccine Centre, told the paper: ‘They have a way to go before they get into human trials – they are about in the same place as most vaccines.
‘Vaccines already in human trials had already done the groundwork with other versions of the same vaccine or just didn’t bother.’ According to the World Health Organisation, there are at least eight vaccines being tested for their clinical value. That includes one being developed by Oxford University, which started trials on April 23.