Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before being distributed, but since 2020, scientists are committed to producing safe and effective coronavirus vaccines in record time. Researchers are currently testing 114 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and 47 have reached the final stages of testing.
One way to improve current options would be to develop an oral Covid-19 vaccine that can break through global distribution bottlenecks, and Hong Kong-based DreamTec is looking to minister to that demand.
DreamTec Research Limited is a biotechnology company working on a capsule that can contain at least a billion Bacillus subtilis spores, which are covered with the receptor-binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Previous experiments have shown that the genetically engineered Bacillus subtilis, a Gram-positive bacterium can express and present receptor binding domain of spike protein of the SARS-COV2 on its spore coat, release it in the small intestine, and successfully stimulate the immune system.
If the company would turn its project into a reality, a bacteria-based oral Covid-19 vaccine would bring several advantages such as low cost, safety for human consumption, and straightforward administration as it would be stable at room temperature and could be stored for up to six months.
Dr. Keith Kwong, Executive director at DreamTec, says: “We set out to make a COVID-19 oral vaccine so that it could be safe, effective, and easy to administer”
The company has already conducted a pilot study on healthy human volunteers for the newly engineered Bacillus subtilis resembling the proteins of the nucleus and spikes of COVID-19. In the same study, additional volunteers were administered with the DreamTec’s vaccine as a booster. The result was that these volunteers displayed an increase in COVID-19 neutralizing antibody levels, Dr. Kwong says. The emerging applications of Bacillus subtilis spores include the generation of enzymes and antigens, synthetic biology, drug delivery, and material sciences, and soon the time to initiate a Phase I trial to assess the efficacy and safety of this COVID-19 vaccine will come, Dr. Kwong says