A COVID-19 booster shot that can protect against multiple variants is being tested in humans.
It uses new vaccine technology that replicates itself when injected into the muscle.
The vaccine may need a lower dose than existing shots, potentially reducing side effects.
A COVID-19 booster vaccine that could protect against several virus variants at once is being tested for the first time in humans.
The vaccine, called GRT-R910, uses a new technology called self-amplifying messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), which replicates itself when injected into muscle. COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA, which teaches our body to make a protein that triggers an immune response, but it cannot replicate itself.
Self-amplifying mRNA promises lower doses than existing vaccines, meaning it is potentially cheaper and has fewer side effects, Insider reported earlier.
The trial, sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, will eventually recruit 20 volunteers, all over the age of 60, the company said.
Gritstone, the U.S. pharmaceutical company that developed GRT-R910, said in a press release Monday that the vaccine could boost the immune response from “first-generation COVID-19 vaccines” to a “wide range” of coronavirus variants.
Dr. Andrew Allen, CEO of Gritstone, said the immune response could provide “more benefits than an extra dose of the same vaccine.”
The results of the trial are expected in early 2022, Gritstone said.
Andrew Ustianowski, clinical honorary president of the University of Manchester and investigator of local investigator, said in a statement that “we believe that GRT-R910 as a booster vaccination will elicit strong, lasting and broad immune responses that are likely to be critical to maintain the protection of this vulnerable elderly population who are at particular risk of hospitalization and death. “
Andrew Clarke, 63, and his wife Helen Clarke, 64, were the first to receive the GRT-R910 as part of an early trial at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, UK, on Monday.
Self-amplifying mRNAs could potentially be developed in hospitals tailored to specific outbreaks, rather than in large centralized factories.
Professor Ian Bruce, President of the Manchester COVID-19 Research Rapid Response Group, said in a statement that future studies will examine the effectiveness of GRT-R910 in other vulnerable populations.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended an extra dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to fully vaccinated Americans aged 65 and older and to younger people at risk for serious illness.
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