Lancaster University joins forces with British biomedical firm ViraCorp to create ‘vaccine for the world’

Dr Mohammad Munir

A new partnership between Lancaster University and biomedical firm ViraCorp has been launched to develop a unique nasal COVID-19 vaccine which attacks the virus at its entry point into the body.

The new vaccine is based on the work of Lancaster Molecular Virologist Dr Muhammad Munir, a pioneer of needleless and next-generation COVID-19 vaccine, who has taken on a role of Chief Scientific Officer at ViraCorp in addition to his academic role in the University. It will provide a cost-effective and easily administered alternative to solutions currently on the market. It is hoped the novel delivery system will also have a positive impact on vaccine hesitancy currently hindering global immunity and remove the heavy training and infrastructure requirements for delivering vaccines via intramuscular injections.

The company is set to announce a number of world-leading scientific partner organisations to take the vaccine through trials to production and distribution and intends to target territories where vaccine distribution has been low, supporting the World Health Organisation’s campaign on vaccine equity.

The company will develop the vaccine under its subsidiary ViraVac. ViraCorp and Lancaster University are already working together on testing a new antiviral and antimicrobial mask which begins killing COVID-19 on contact, and is being produced by sister company ViraCoat.

Dr Munir said: “With the emergence of new variants and increasing challenges to equitably vaccinating the world, there is a need to develop novel and improved COVID-19 vaccines. Our next-generation dual-antigen carry vaccine offers solutions to several weakness of currently applied vaccines and I am delighted this partnership between ViraCorp and Lancaster University will bring this novel vaccine to market, which I believe will have significant impact in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach communities.

“ViraCorp has put together a team of global partners who will bring world-leading expertise to help bring this vaccine to market. Once we have the relevant permissions, we will look to bring the vaccine to parts of the world which currently have low vaccination rates and will benefit from the stability and low cost of this vaccine and a nasal delivery system.”

Senior Research Associate Dr Mohammed Rohaim added: “The intranasal vaccine has been extensively validated in pre-clinical studies and has a safety profile of several decades.”

ViraCorp CEO Jon Chadwick said combining the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and world-leading virology experts with ViraCorp’s mission was a ‘logical step’.

He added: “As a company uniquely equipped to help tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is a responsibility of ours to ensure that our efforts are both as rapid and as impactful as possible.

“Our aim is to ensure that vaccines are available for everybody, including countries and remote communities which may not have access to the currently available vaccines, and our work with Lancaster University is helping us to facilitate that goal.”

The World Health Organisation has launched a campaign to increase vaccine equity worldwide, stating that whilst COVID-19 vaccines are being rapidly developed, they are largely only being distributed in high and upper-middle income countries. This is preventing global immunity and helping new variants such as the current Omicron strain take hold.

Professor Andy Schofield, Vice Chancellor, Lancaster University, said: “As an international institution with campuses around the world, Lancaster University wholeheartedly agrees with the World Health Organisation’s position on vaccine equity and that vaccinations should be made accessible to all nations and communities if we are to ultimately eradicate the virus.

“We are proud to be partnering with ViraCorp to bring to market a stable and affordable COVID-19 vaccine which could be vital for some of the world’s developing regions, where levels of vaccinated citizens are often extremely low.

“Having a vaccination which could be transported easily and administered through a nasal delivery system may help reduce the heavy infrastructure and training requirements of a vaccination drive and assist in getting the vaccine to some of the world’s most remote communities.”

ViraCorp through its subsidiaries are a group of biomedical research and development companies, on a mission to improve the health outcomes for as many of the world’s population as possible.

Specifically focusing on protecting and preventing the disastrous humanitarian and economic impacts of viral outbreaks, pandemics, and endemics, ViraCorp is taking an innovative, disruptive approach to developing viral defence products that the world needs now.

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