A group of South African scientists has designed and developed the first Covid-19 vaccine of African origin, called Shantivax.
Port Elizabeth-based immunotherapy company, Genlab, along with Danish biotechnology company Immunitrack, have created a “next-generation vaccine” that elicits both an anti-anti and T-cell response.
“It will completely change the way the world views Africa in terms of innovation. We have a fax machine through Africa, for Africa and the developing world, ”said Kamsellin Chetty, CEO of Genlab.
“Next-generation faxes” are faxes that have adapted and evolved from today’s faxes to be safer and more efficient.
“This is the first time the concept and design for a Covid-19 vaccine has come from South Africa,” said Chetty.
The Shantivax prototype is currently being preclinically tested.
The vaccine uses a live but attenuated strain of bacteria that is known to be safe and will continuously stimulate the immune system to provide long-term protection against Covid-19.
“It is designed to elicit a highly specialized respiratory immune response called type I and type III interferon reactions. The bacterial platform will transport a vector that will produce a small protein (peptides) called epitopes that are used around the Covid-19 to address. “
Shantivax can be administered through the skin into the bloodstream where it should elicit an anti-inflammatory response and will use nanotechnology to travel from the bloodstream to the site of infection in the lung.
The vaccine can live in the lungs for a number of years, while continuously providing stimuli to the immune system to identify and neutralize Covid-19 before it replicates intensively.
Once the Shantivax vaccine has passed clinical trials, Chetty says she hopes to outsource production to the Serum Institute of India (SII). “The company has the capacity to produce a bacterial vaccine of this nature,” he said.
According to CEO of Immunitrack, Stephan Thorgrimsen: “This project presents a powerful approach to address the challenge of generating a sustainable immune response against the emerging Covid-19 variants. Our in vitro HLA-specific epitope mapping platform, NeoScreen, will enable Shantivax to address the urgent need for an effective, affordable and productive vaccine for the African continent ”.