AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s made inside eggs and could help breach the affordability gap for vaccines in countries that depend on imports. It’s NDV-HXP-S.
No, it’s not a license plate number, it’s a new COVID-19 vaccine developed with the help of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin — and it’s now beginning human trials in Vietnam and Thailand.
The vaccine has some notable differences from the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots currently available. Aside from being made in eggs (a method also used for flu vaccine manufacturing), the vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius, making it easier to store and transport.
According to UT, the vaccine uses “a highly stabilized spike protein from the surface of the coronavirus in order to train the human immune system to recognize and fight infection.”
The spike protein has been called “HexaPro” and it was engineered by three UT faculty labs. The university says other vaccines used stabilized spike proteins, but this will be HexaPro’s first use in a vaccine in human trials.
NDV-HXP-S (named for both the Newcastle Disease Virus and HexaPro) is produced using the same method that has been used for influenza vaccines for decades, UT says, so it’s less complicated and faster to perform.
“We are witnessing unprecedented disparities in COVID-19 vaccine access around the world,” said Ilya Finkelstein, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, a collaborator on the technology. “We designed HexaPro to be a more stable antigen. In cell culture, this translated to a more than tenfold increased yield relative to the first-generation spike constructs used in current vaccines. If this holds for NDV-HXP-S, HexaPro will bring us a step closer towards addressing the wide disparity in vaccine access.”
A clinical trial of NDV-HXP-S in Brazil is expected to start soon.