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  • Cristina Dragani MPharm

Meet Aspidia, a startup researching innovative shot-free vaccines

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

Aspidia aims to conduct innovative, multidisciplinary scientific research to develop novel mucosal vaccines, which are administered by buccal and/or nasal spray, without any need of injection.

These vaccines will help to combat viral respiratory diseases, including new variants of Covid-19, and will be safe, effective, and inexpensive.



Infectious diseases are a global public health concern


The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world that a new infectious agent can, in a short period of time, cause millions of deaths, make hundreds of millions of people sick, and lead to near-paralysis of health systems in many countries [Ioannidis, 2020; Ganesh et al., 2021; Khan et al. 2020]. In addition, new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the infectious agent responsible for Covid-19, are emerging, raising concerns about their infectiousness, virulence, and ability to escape immunity induced by currently available vaccines [Cao et al., 2021; Hamed et al., 2021].

Many endemic communicable diseases, primarily influenza, still remain inadequately controlled, causing tens of thousands of deaths and millions of ill people [Lowe et al., 2018].

It is, therefore, necessary to have a reliable technology that enables a rapid and economically sustainable response to emergencies caused by new infectious agents and emerging variants.

Vaccination is a technology that, through stimulation of our immune system, allows the creation of antibody and cellular immunity against pathogenic viruses, and is proven and highly effective.


Why Aspidia and about us


Aspidia was founded in 2021, in Milan, Italy, by professionals and researchers. Aspidia aims to develop scientific research aimed at creating a new class of innovative vaccines to improve our quality of life.

Our co-founders and partners are business management experts, biomedical researchers, and me, MPharm, who is in charge of scientific communication. Our team of researchers has interdisciplinary experience in molecular biology, immunology, and virology.

One of our strengths is the collaboration with researchers from scientific institutions in Italy and in other countries, both European and non-European.

Aspidia's role is to catalyze interaction among researchers, to trigger a synergy of expertise from different related disciplines, and to facilitate the acquisition of funding for high-level research aimed at developing new technologies for the preparation of vaccines that do not require injections, that are safe and effective and that can improve people's health.


Scientific research on new mucosal vaccines


With our collaborators, we are developing an innovative vaccination system that combines the opportunities and speed of genetic engineering in recombinant antigen preparation with the ease of delivery and immunological enhancement of Lactobacilli, which are natural constituents of the human microbiome [Lopez-Santamarina et al., 2021; Villena et al., 2021; Wang et al., 2021].

Mucosal vaccines, like the mRNA vaccines that have been developed, do not contain the complete virus, but contain only a fragment of the viral genome that allows for the expression of a piece of viral protein that is immunogenic to the human body, i.e., that is capable of generating an immune response against the virus, without being infected first, and that allows for the prevention of infection and/or severe disease from the same virus, should one come to be infected.

This involves creating a platform for vaccines that are administered not by injection but directly on the mucous membranes, i.e. by nasal or buccal spray, or with a pill to be ingested, like common probiotics. The results of some preliminary scientific studies show that our goal is feasible and that our technology is adequate.

In addition, our proprietary technology allows the preparation of probiotics that are non-GMO, stable, easily stored and transported, and inexpensive.


References


Cao C, He L, Tian Y, et al.

Molecular epidemiology analysis of early variants of SARS-CoV-2 reveals the potential impact of mutations P504L and Y541C (NSP13) in the clinical COVID-19 outcomes [published online ahead of print, 2021 Mar 31]. Infect Genet Evol.

Ganesh B, Rajakumar T, Malathi M, et al.

Epidemiology and pathobiology of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in comparison with SARS, MERS: An updated overview of current knowledge and future perspectives.

Clin Epidemiol Glob Health. 2021;10:100694.

Hamed SM, Elkhatib WF, Khairalla AS, Noreddin AM.

Global dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 clades and their relation to COVID-19 epidemiology. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):8435. Published 2021 Apr 19. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-87713-x

Ioannidis JPA.

Global perspective of COVID-19 epidemiology for a full-cycle pandemic. Eur J Clin

Invest. 2020;50(12):e13423. doi:10.1111/eci.13423

Khan M, Adil SF, Alkhathlan HZ, et al.

COVID-19: A Global Challenge with Old History, Epidemiology and Progress So Far. Molecules. 2020;26(1):39. Published 2020 Dec 23. doi:10.3390/molecules26010039

Lopez-Santamarina A, Lamas A, Del Carmen Mondragón A, et al.

Probiotic Effects against Virus Infections: New Weapons for an Old War. Foods. 2021;10(1):130. Published 2021 Jan 9. doi:10.3390/foods10010130

Lowe L, Dopson SA, Budd AP.

Pandemic Influenza Readiness Report on Laboratory and Epidemiology Capacity-United States and Territories, 2015. Health Secur. 2018;16(4):239-243. doi:10.1089/hs.2018.0021

Villena J, Li C, Vizoso-Pinto MG, Sacur J, Ren L, Kitazawa H.

Lactiplantibacillus plantarum as a Potential Adjuvant and Delivery System for the Development of SARS-CoV-2 Oral Vaccines. Microorganisms. 2021;9(4):683. Published 2021 Mar 26.

Wang D, Liu Q, Jiang YL, et al.

Oral immunization with recombinant Lactobacillus plantarum expressing Nudix hydrolase and 43 kDa proteins confers protection against Trichinella spiralis in BALB/c mice [published online ahead of print, 2021 May 7]. Acta Trop.

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