COVID-19 Vaccine To Commence Trials in Israel, Oral Version Underway
Oramed Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical firm with headquarters in Israel and the U.S., has announced that it is preparing to launch clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine in Israel, pending approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health.
In a statement, the company said that its majority-owned firm Oravax Medical would be spearheading the project, first in Israel and then later in other international clinical locations. The study has already gained approval from the Institutional Review Board at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and is just waiting for the Health Ministry's green light. The firm has also started GMP manufacturing for the drug.
Oravax exclusively owns a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine designed to target three types of SARS CoV-2 virus surface proteins and has used Oramed's protein oral delivery (POD) technology to create an injectable product. The goal now is to test its effectiveness in oral delivery.
The VLP addresses SARS COV-2 surface proteins and other proteins that are less susceptible to mutation. This means that it could also be effective against any future strains of COVID-19. Preclinical trials on the vaccine involved several variants of the virus, including Delta. This effort marks a milestone as it is the first trial in Israel for an oral vaccine.
"Our vaccine is a particularly strong candidate against the evolving COVID-19 virus due to its unique targeting of three proteins rather than one. With the Delta and other variants proving a challenge to health administrators globally, Oravax's VLP technology could prove even more important in the effort to combat COVID," said Nadav Kidron, chief executive of Oramed, in a statement.
The oral version is being developed as a standalone vaccine and as a booster for previously vaccinated people. The World Health Organization has said that booster doses might be needed in the future in both general and high-risk areas. The VLP technology is easy to scale and has a low cost of goods, thus providing a ray of light for the billions of people located in areas that have limited funds and access to healthcare.
Oravax is the exclusive owner of VLP but has also licensed certain rights in some Indian territories to Premas Biotech to develop an injectable version to fight against the Delta variant. Under the terms of that agreement, Premas will manufacture, test, and possibly commercialize the product in India, where the COVID-19 vaccine market is reportedly is expected to balloon to more than $2.3 billion by 2027. India is among the hardest-hit by the Delta variant, logging as many as 31 million deaths as of this writing.