Virologist Cornel Fraefel hopes a novel vaccine technique will help control Sars-CoV-2. The Swiss National Science Foundation has awarded him a grant to fund the remarkable project.
What the researchers are aiming for is a vaccine delivered via the spores of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis – a vaccine that you could just swallow and not have to inject into the blood. The microscopic spores are heat-stable and resistant to environmental conditions and can thus be stored and transported easily. Unlike many other vaccines, they do not require costly refrigeration, which makes them easier to use in rural areas in developing countries, for example. Once swallowed, the spores of B. subtilis pass through the stomach and develop their immunisation protection in the small intestine. In short, spores are the ideal dosage form for a vaccine, if they work.
And Cornel Fraefel is convinced they do. The immunisation protection is based on a genetic modification of the bacterial genome to insert the gene sequences of the Sars-CoV-2 envelope protein. Thanks to the SNSF grant, Fraefel's team are now working flat out to develop the promising vaccine.