Cheap, Single-Dose Rabies Vaccine Passes Phase 1 Trials–Could Save Thousands of Lives

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Researchers from the University of Oxford have today reported new findings from a Phase 1 clinical trial studying the immune response and safety of their newly-developed single-shot rabies vaccine, and the results look great.

12 volunteers were recruited into the study in total, with three receiving a low dose, three receiving a medium dose and six receiving a high dose of ChAdOx2 RabG, and strong immune responses against rabies were seen in all but the low dose trio.

Additionally, the researchers assessed longer term immune responses. Six of the seven middle and high-dose recipients who returned for an additional follow-up one year after vaccination maintained neutralizing antibody levels above the protective threshold set internationally by the WHO for rabies vaccines, demonstrating that the immune response from the vaccine persists over time.

All existing rabies vaccines are either 2 or 3 dose procedures, and despite these having been available for years, there are still around 60,000 deaths worldwide from rabies every year. Often patients in developing countries can afford only one, as each shot is expensive to manufacture.

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Unlike the Covid vaccines, which weren’t vaccines in the traditional sense, and were more like targeted therapies only designed to identify the virus’ spike protein, ChAdOx2 RabG creates dead viruses that code for a rabies glycoprotein that allows the body’s immune-system to recognize the whole virus, and thusly destroy it.

“We’re absolutely delighted with these early results – the vaccine has performed even better than we had expected,” reported chief investigator on the trial Sandy Douglas.

“The problems with existing rabies vaccines are that they are expensive and require multiple doses. We’re very hopeful that expanded trials in countries affected by rabies will prove that this new vaccine could enable routine, affordable, single-dose vaccination against this devastating disease for people living in such areas.”

The results were published in Lancet Microbe.

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A phase two trial is going one with 200 participants in Tanzania, with results expected later this year.

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