press release
Published: 28 July 2020

University of Surrey to become trial site for new Covid-19 vaccine developed by Imperial College London

By Natasha Meredith

The University of Surrey has been selected as one of the investigational sites in a clinical trial for a new Covid-19 vaccine. 

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Developed by scientists from Imperial College London, the vaccine is currently undergoing the first phase of human testing. The next phase of the trial will see more human testing at a number of additional sites across the country including at the University of Surrey.

The team at Surrey led by Dr Hana Hassanin are seeking to recruit 40 volunteers aged between 18-75 years old. Volunteers will receive two doses of the vaccine over two visits – an initial dose and then a second booster dose four weeks later.

Professor Simon Skene, from the University of Surrey, said: “Trialling vaccines in humans is an essential step in our fight against viruses such as Covid-19 and I am thrilled that the team at Surrey are contributing to this important trial. This new vaccine has undergone extensive pre-clinical testing and produced encouraging signs of immune response in animals. Volunteers are key in making research such as this possible and I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking part to get in touch.”

Unlike many traditional vaccines which are based on a weakened or modified form of the virus, this novel vaccine, developed by Imperial College London, uses synthetic strands of genetic code (called self-amplifying RNA, or saRNA), based on the SARS CoV-2 virus’s genetic material. Once injected into the muscle, the RNA self-amplifies and instructs the body’s own cells to make copies of the spiky protein (S-glycoprotein) found on the outside of the virus.

Coronaviruses use spike proteins to gain entry into cells to infect them, and these proteins are the main target of antibodies. Using this novel vaccine type should elicit an immune response to the S protein so the body can easily recognise it and defend itself against Covid-19 in case of future infection.

Professor David Sampson, Vice-Provost, Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey, said: “I am delighted that Surrey is joining the global effort to find a vaccine against Covid-19. With over 600,000 deaths worldwide it is crucial that we find a vaccine to stop the spread of this deadly virus. We are proud to be demonstrating once again the enormous impact research at universities plays in tackling the greatest challenges faced by global society.”

Surrey resident Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading the development of the vaccine at Imperial College London, said: “The early results from pre-clinical data have been promising, and the expansion of our trial to additional centres will provide further data on the safety of the vaccine, and the immune response.”

If you are interested in taking part at University of Surrey, please register your interest at www.helpresearch.co.uk or contact the recruitment team directly on 0800 269847 or crc-recruitment@surrey.ac.uk

For full details of Imperial’s Covid-19 vaccine, visit the Imperial Covid-19 Vaccine Trial website - www.imperial.ac.uk/covid-19-vaccine-trial/

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