Tampa Bay company searching for other vaccine methods
- Tampa-based biotech company Oragenics is in the pre-clinical phase of developing a vaccine they say would solve two critical problems when it comes to ending the pandemic. "We grind this out every day," said CEO Alan Joslyn. "We all want to go back to our normal lives." The first goal is to find a vaccine that does not have to be given by needle, but rather a patch or nasal spray. The second is to produce antibodies that last indefinitely, whereas the current length of protection is unknown. A recent poll showed 25% of Americans may not be willing to get the vaccine. Oragenics, which is based in Tampa but has a lab in Gainesville, hopes fewer needles and longer-lasting certainty would bring that number down, particularly in rural areas. "It is far easier to even have a healthcare worker spray a vaccine up someone's nose, and they are on their way in a number of seconds," said Joslyn. They're using a spike protein created by the National Institutes of Health that creates quick antibodies and does not have to be stored in deep freezers. They are not giving specifics on their pre-clinical data, but say it has shown effectiveness in mice. "It's not the inability to generate an immune response to protect somebody from the actual virus [that is difficult]," said Joslyn. "It is: What other thing is the vaccine potentially doing to somebody that we just don't know yet?" They do expect to be able to release some data in the next few months and are encouraged that their method may be one dose and done. "Oragenics thinks that this particular approach will help certain populations of people around the world to actually be able to go back to a normal life," said Joslyn. They believe they are the only company in Florida working on a vaccine, which they hope will also protect against other coronaviruses. They hope to have it ready by the end of next year.