There’s promising news in the medical world as Sunway University and the University of Cambridge have teamed up for a novel approach for COVID-19 vaccine delivery.
This monumental development could bear fruit in a vaccine that can be more quickly distributed around the world.
Challenges With Injected Vaccines
“Typically, most vaccines are administered through hypodermic injections. The challenge with this form of delivery is, when a vaccine is finally approved for manufacture and delivery, there needs to be large support from manufacturers of vaccine ancillaries such as chemical additives, hypodermics, glass vials, rubber, stoppers and other parts of an injection kit and storage equipment such as deep freezers.
“These requirements can potentially delay vaccine delivery or even make it entirely inaccessible for some parts of the world. Hypodermic injections also require highly trained personnel for administration,” Sunway University details in a media release.
Peptide-based Vaccine Research
Sunway University researchers have gone down a novel route and designed a multi-epitope peptide vaccine, which was published in Biomedical Journal and is awaiting mice trials.
Heng Wen Tzuen, MSc in Life Sciences by Research student using the microfluidics equipment, looking on are Professor Poh Chit Laa and Dr Seyed Davoud Jazayeri, Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Sunway University
Sunway University Head of the Centre for Virus and Vaccine Research, Distinguished Professor Poh Chit Laa, elaborates, “With a peptide-based vaccine being encapsulated in nanoparticles which can be swallowed as a pill or delivered intranasally, vaccine delivery can happen at a much faster speed to more parts of the world as they do not require ancillaries, cold storage at -70oC or -20oC during transportation or trained personnel for injections.”
Additional Research Efforts
Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Professor and Advisor to the Sunway Education Group Chairman and Chancellor, Professor Sibrand Poppema, shares his input on the matter, saying, “Professor Poh Chit Laa’s work is one of the two collaborations which were undertaken by Sunway University, Sunway Medical Centre and researchers at the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Institute (JCBMI) at the University of Cambridge.
“The other collaborative effort is on the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 genomes of cases diagnosed between March and June at Sunway Medical Centre. The research is now completed and a joint manuscript will be submitted for publication.”
Sunway University has also invested in a microfluidics machine to produce poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) nanoparticles to aid in the ongoing research. The resulting elastomeric copolymers have been given the green light by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for drug delivery use thanks to their biodegradability, biocompatibility, mechanical properties and ease of processing.
Sunway University believes that the encapsulation of peptide vaccines to produce ‘microcapsules’ suitable for oral and intranasal delivery is worth pursuing as it has the potential to yield a more efficient SARS-CoV-2 vaccine with high patient compliance, especially in developing countries.