AstraZeneca says its vaccine produces immune response in older adults

AstraZeneca said Monday that its potential coronavirus vaccine provokes an immune response in older adults, which it touted as a positive development as clinical trials proceed.

The immune response in older adults was similar to that in younger people, the company said, and adverse responses to the vaccine, known as reactogenicity, was lower in older people.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said. “The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of [the vaccine].”

AstraZeneca, partnered with Oxford University, is developing one of the leading potential coronavirus vaccines, which is now in the third phase of clinical trials, along with other potential vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

AstraZeneca faced a setback in early September when its vaccine trial was halted to review potential safety concerns from a participant developing neurological symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration allowed the trial to resume on Friday.

“The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement Friday. “We should be reassured by the care taken by independent regulators to protect the public and ensure the vaccine is safe before it is approved for use.”

The complete picture of the potential vaccine’s safety and efficacy will not be known until the full data from the phase three trial is published.

Reacting to Monday’s announcement about the immune response, Florian Krammer, a professor of vaccinology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, tweeted: “AZ says the vaccine is immunogenic in older individuals. This has been shown for other COVID-19 vaccines too. Good, but no breakthrough.”

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Vaccine hopes rise as Oxford jab prompts immune response among old as well as young adults

LONDON (Reuters) – One of the world’s leading COVID-19 experimental vaccines produces a immune response in both young and old adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom and economic destruction wrought by the novel coronavirus.

The vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, also triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, which is helping manufacture the vaccine, said on Monday.

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, shuttered swathes of the global economy and turned normal life upside down for billions of people.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman said.

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesman said, referring to the technical name of the vaccine.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate, as the world tries to plot a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news that older people get an immune response from the vaccine is positive because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus.

If it works, a vaccine would allow the world to return to some measure of normality after the tumult of the pandemic.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready but he was preparing logistics for a possible roll out mostly in the first half of 2021.

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo/File Photo

Asked if some people could receive a vaccine this year he told the BBC: “I don’t rule that out but that is not my central expectation.”

“The programme is progressing well, (but) we’re not there yet,” Hancock said.

COMMON COLD VIRUS

Work began on the Oxford vaccine in January. Called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the viral vector vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.

The chimpanzee cold virus has been genetically changed to include the genetic sequence of the so-called spike protein which the coronavirus uses to gain entry to human cells. The hope is that the human body will then attack the novel coronavirus if it sees it again.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55, the Financial Times reported earlier.

Details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, the FT said. It did not name the publication.

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Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine triggers immune response among adults

A test tube labelled vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

LONDON — British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Monday said its potential Covid-19 vaccine had produced a similar immune response in both older and younger adults.

Adverse responses to the vaccine among the elderly — the age group at highest risk from the coronavirus — were also found to be lower, AstraZeneca said. The drugmaker’s potential Covid-19 vaccine is being developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

The announcement is likely to boost hopes of a Covid vaccine being developed before the end of the year.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman told CNBC via email.

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesman said, referring to the technical name of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Shares of the company rose around 0.8% on the news.

Drugmakers and research centers are scrambling to deliver a safe and effective vaccine in an attempt to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 1.15 million lives.

Dozens of candidate vaccines are in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organization, with some already conducting late-stage tests before seeking formal approval.

The vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is thought to be one of the frontrunners to secure regulatory approval.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soirot has previously said the drugmaker’s vaccine would likely provide protection against contracting the coronavirus for about a year.

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Oxford COVID-19 vaccine prompts immune response among adults old and young, AstraZeneca says

LONDON (Reuters) – The COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford produces a similar immune response in both older and younger adults, and adverse responses were lower among the elderly, British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo/File Photo

A vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.15 million people, hammered the global economy and shuttered normal life across the world.

“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher,” an AstraZeneca spokesman told Reuters.

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesman said, referring to the technical name of the vaccine.

The news that older people get an immune response from the vaccine is positive because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus.

The Financial Times reported earlier that the vaccine, being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, triggers protective antibodies and T-cells in older age groups – among those most at risk from the virus.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer PFE.N and BioNTech’s 22UAy.F candidate.

If it works, a vaccine would allow the world to return to some measure of normality after the tumult of the pandemic.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55, the Financial Times reported.

Details of the finding are expected to be published shortly in a clinical journal, the FT said. It did not name the publication.

OXFORD VACCINE

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready though he was preparing logistics for a possible roll out.

“I would expect the bulk of the roll out to be in the first half of next year,” Hancock told the BBC.

Asked if some people could receive a vaccine this year he told the BBC: “I don’t rule that out but that is not my central expectation.”

“We want to be ready in case everything goes perfectly but it’s not my central expectation that we’ll be doing that this year, but the programme is progressing well, we’re not there yet,” Hancock said.

Called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the vaccine was developed by Oxford University scientists and licensed to AstraZeneca in April, which took on the task of scaling trials and production.

The vaccine is likely to provide protection for about a year, CEO Pascal Soriot said in June.

The British drugmaker has signed several supply and

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Multiple sclerosis as the flip side of immune fitness

genetics
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About half of the people with multiple sclerosis have the HLA-DR15 gene variant. A study led by the University of Zurich has now shown how this genetic predisposition contributes to the development of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis in combination with environmental factors. The decisive factor is the shaping of a repertoire of immune cells which—although they are effective in fighting off pathogens such as Epstein-Barr virus—also attack brain tissue.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that damages the brain and the spinal cord and often severely limits a person’s quality of life. It affects about 2.5 million people worldwide, most of them young adults. The cause of the disease is a complex interaction between genetic factors and environmental influences such as smoking or infections.

Genetic variation and viruses as risk factors

For almost 50 years now, it has been known that a gene variant called HLA-DR15 is strongly associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). This gene variant is responsible for up to 60 percent of genetic risk. If carriers of this common gene (about a quarter of the healthy population is HLA-DR15 positive) are also infected with the Epstein-Barr virus and have a symptomatic course of infection called Pfeiffer’s disease (also known as glandular fever or infectious mononucleosis), the risk of MS increases 15-fold.

UZH Professor Roland Martin, Head of the Department of Neuroimmunology and MS Research at the University Hospital Zurich, says: “There are therefore clear indications that the interaction between HLA-DR15 and infectious agents such as Epstein-Barr virus is significant for the development of the disease, even though the exact mechanisms behind this have not been understood until now.”

An interdisciplinary, international study led by Martin has now shown that the immune cells of people with HLA-DR15 recognize certain microbes—such as the Epstein-Barr virus—very effectively, but that this “fitness” can also lead to an undesired immune reaction against the person’s own brain tissue.

Individual training for immune cells

The gene products of HLA-DR15 control how the adaptive immune system shapes an immune repertoire that allows the body to recognize and fight pathogens. One of the locations of HLA-DR15 molecules is on the surface of white blood cells. There, they present protein fragments from bacteria, viruses and body cells to the T lymphocytes of the immune system.

The T lymphocytes—which later control the immune response—learn to distinguish between foreign proteins and the body’s own tissue. This individual training of immune cells takes place first in the thymus and then in the blood. Since there are many more possible pathogens than T lymphocytes, each T lymphocyte must be able to respond to many different antigens and probably also many different pathogens.

Identifying the fragments presented

The researchers first investigated which fragments HLA-DR15 captured and presented to the immune cells. To do this, they used two novel antibodies that recognize the two variants of HLA-DR15 that occur in MS patients with a very high level of specificity. They found that the HLA-DR15 molecules in the thymus mainly

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