Cambridge’s ‘next-gen’ Covid-19 vaccine begins clinical trials

The needle-free vaccine has been described as ‘potentially game-changing’


This month (14/12/21), the DIOS-CoVax needle-free Coronavirus vaccination was “injected” into its first clinical trial volunteer in Southampton.

Meanwhile, the UK continues to break its own record for new cases, registering 318,699 new cases on 27 December 2021 – which accounts for Christmas, Boxing Day and the 27th.

The vaccine was developed by Professor Jonathan Heeney at the University of Cambridge and its spin-out company DioSynVax, who described the vaccine as “the first step towards a universal coronavirus vaccine.” It is administered via a blast of air through a spring jet injection system that does not require needles. 

The vaccine is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial lasting 12 months in the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility (CRF). 

According to a BBC report, DIOS-CoVax uses “predictive methods” to mimic the wider family of coronavirus antigens, rather than using the technology used by most current coronavirus vaccines (employing genes from the virus spike protein to encode antigens). 

Professor Heeney was quoted in a University publication as saying that the vaccine “should protect us against variants we’ve seen so far – alpha, beta, delta variants, for example.” 

He added that the needle-free vaccine should “hopefully future-proof us against emerging variants and potential coronavirus pandemics.”

Heeney’s comments were echoed by Professor Saul Faust, the director of NIHR Southampton CRF, who added that “this technology could give wide-ranging protection to huge numbers of people worldwide.”

DIOS-CoVax can be administered pain-free without a needle, providing an alternate mode of vaccine delivery to people who fear needles. 

An article by Craig Brierley also outlined the potential uses of this vaccine delivery technique for vaccination campaigns in “low-and-middle-income countries.” The components of the vaccination, if successful, could be manufactured into a powder and distributed to “boost global vaccination efforts.” 

Researchers are currently calling for the participation of healthy volunteers (aged 18-50) in the Southampton area. These volunteers must have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but not a booster dose. 

If you fit these requirements, you can contact [email protected] or call 0238 120 4989 for more details.

Feature Image Credits: N Chadwick on Geograph via this Creative Commons License