An Israeli-American pharmaceutical company is preparing to launch a Phase I clinical trial for what could become the world’s first oral COVID-19 vaccine.
Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company based on technology developed by Hadassah-University Medical Center, announced over the weekend a joint venture with India-based Premas Biotech to develop a novel oral vaccine.
According to Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron, both companies connected earlier this year and quickly realized they could revolutionize the marketplace.
“An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
“While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended annually like the standard flu shot,” he added.
The vaccine is based on Oramed’s “POD” oral delivery technology and Premas’s vaccine technology.
Africa Tembelea has learnt that the company completed a pilot animal study and found that the vaccine promoted the development of Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and Immunoglobulin A (IgA). IgA is necessary for longer-term immunity.
Oramed’s technology can be used to orally administer a number of protein-based therapies, which would otherwise be delivered by injection.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Oramed is in the midst of a Phase III clinical trial through the US Food and Drug Administration of an oral insulin capsule for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
The new Oravax vaccine candidate targets three structural proteins of the novel coronavirus, as opposed to the single spike protein targeted via the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Kidron said. As such, “this vaccine should be much more resistant to COVID-19 variants,” he added.
Kidron also revealed that it is a yeast-based vaccine, making the time and cost of production much cheaper than its already approved competitors.
“The advantages of an oral vaccine go beyond safety and efficacy,” he said.
Oravax is applying for trials in multiple countries, including the United States, Israel, Europe and Mexico, Kidron said, adding that they hope to also target Africa, where such an oral vaccine could prove essential.
The Oramed CEO expects Phase I human trial data to be available within three months.