A global coalition set up to develop a synthetic vaccine system that can fight multiple pathogens such as flu, ebola, marburg, and rabies have said that trials would begin early in 2019.
The group is investing up to $8.4 million in fighting these epidemic diseases.
The deal between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and a team of scientists at Britain’s Imperial College London is aimed at progressing a “vaccine platform” which uses synthetic self-amplifying RNA (saRNA).
They aim to start safety trials in animal models in the lab early in 2019 and move to early-stage clinical trials in humans within two years.
“It could be very transformative. It would change the way people view how to make vaccines,” said Robin Shattock, a specialist in mucosal infection and immunity.
Mr Shattock added that there are several years of research and testing ahead, but hopes the technology could one day lead to rapid production of “single shot” vaccines against an emerging epidemic or of “cocktail” vaccines against several different infectious diseases.
Epidemic and infectious diseases such as Ebola outbreaks in Africa or Zika spreading from Brazil are sporadic, unpredictable and fast-moving.
Developing vaccines to combat them can currently take up to 10 years or more.
Under this deal, Shattock’s team will work with German firm BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals and use the RapidVac platform to produce vaccines against a flu virus, the rabies virus and marburgvirus.
A vaccine platform is a system that uses the same basic components as a backbone or framework.
It can be adapted to immunise against different diseases by inserting new genetic sequences from, for example, the flu or marburg or rabies virus.