An oral vaccine being developed by one of the owners of the Los Angeles Lakers could offer protection againstCBS Los Angeles reports that no injection is required. Researchers at the Chan Soon Shiong Research Institute in El Segundo are testing whether a range of capsules work as well or even better than existing COVID vaccines.
“Having a vaccine at room temperature, which could be a pill, is life changing,” said Dr. Tara Seery, a medical student.
The oral vaccine is part of an experimental protocol that is tested on healthy volunteers. However, since the scientists still don’t know whether pills alone can prevent transmission, the researchers are testing four different approaches.
Some participants get a chance and some don’t. Some, like Matt Henshaw, are given an injection and two rounds of pills.
However, the delivery of the vaccine in a capsule isn’t the only thing that sets this vaccine apart from others.
While existing vaccines help raise antibodies to the spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus, ImmunityBio’s T-cell vaccine targets the globe in the middle – a part that scientists say is less prone to Mutations is.
“And the value of it is that we create killer T cells,” said ImmunityBio founder and chief executive officer, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is both a Lakers owner and a vaccine mastermind.
ImmunityBio researchers believe they can create long-term protection against the virus by producing both killer T cells and antibodies.
Soon, Shiong believes there is reason to be optimistic for lasting protection, even though the Operation Warp Speed-funded vaccine candidate is still in the experimental phase and safety and efficacy have not yet been proven.
“We know from previous SARS-COV-1 in 2003 that people (who) got infected and then they have T cells that lasted 17 years,” he said.
Delivering the vaccine orally is not just about avoiding a shot. Soon, Shiong believes that combining the two could be key.
“With one push, we hope to develop T cells around your body,” he said. “And by giving it orally, we protect the mucous membranes, the intestines and hopefully the nose and mouth, because that’s how the virus comes in. It doesn’t come in through your blood.”
As for Henshaw, once he finishes his vaccine and boosters, he will be closely monitored for the next 12 months and hopes his experience will encourage others to participate in a study.
“The virus is mutating,” he said. “So I hope we have solutions.”
The study is open to healthy adults under the age of 55 who are not pregnant and have not had COVID.
For more information on the vaccine study, visit the ImmunityBio website.