A team at the Friedrich Alexander University (FAU) in Nuremberg is working on a COVID-19 vaccination without an injection. This vaccination would use a nasal or oral spray to form local antibodies in mucous membranes, according to the the Friedrich Alexander University in a press release.

Build local antibodies

The team led by Profs. Klaus Überla and Matthias Tenbusch of FAU’s Department of Clinical and Molecular Virology is conducting research on a vaccine that boost the immune response where the virus enters the body. The project is part of the Bavarian research network FOR-COVID and will continue to be funded with 280,000 euros over the next three years.
In the first funding phase since fall 2020, the researchers were able to demonstrate that mice that received booster immunization administered via the nose developed local antibodies in the nasal mucosa. These antibodies can neutralize viruses directly as they enter the body, reducing the risk of infection. This effect is less efficient with vaccines administered into the muscle.

Research on immunological mechanisms

“Now the aim is to understand the immunological mechanisms behind this type of vaccination and to find out whether this method can also protect more efficiently against new virus variants such as Omikron,” explains Prof. Matthias Tenbusch, project leader of the research group. In collaboration with the research network’s partners at other universities and research institutions in Bavaria, the team is testing the method with different vaccines. Whether the vaccination also works as a mouth spray will be found out in a clinical trial. In addition, the team wants to research which factors have to interact so that the immune system reacts in the best possible way against infections and how this state can be established through vaccination.

“This new way of administering the vaccine could significantly reduce the risk of infection among vaccinated people and also reduce the risk that vaccinated, infected people, pass on the virus unnoticed,” explains Prof. Überla.

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