UAB’s COVID-19 vaccine advances to next level + tests kits manufactured in Birmingham

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the US, Birmingham is at the heart of testing and a vaccine. Here’s what you should know.

Preclinical Testing Results

Back in March, we filled you in on UAB’s collaboration with Altimmune, Inc. and a preclinical testing of a potential COVID-19 vaccine called AdCOVID. We now have an update that’s definitely worth knowing. 

UAB has announced positive results. The study has shown a strong serum neutralizing activity and potent mucosal IgA immunity in the respiratory tract.

UAB is hard at work in the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by CDC

Say what now? Basically, this means the vaccine shows capabilities of blocking both infection and transmission of the virus, which will help prevent further spread. Now that’s news I like to hear!

The vaccine also showed a response to the virus in just 14 days after administration of a single intranasal dose.

“Stimulation of immunity at this level just 14 days after a single dose is impressive for any vaccine, and is particularly notable for a potential coronavirus vaccine.”

Frances Lund, Charles H. McCauley Professor and chair of the UAB Department of Microbiology

Due to UAB’s latest findings, AdCOVID is expected to advance to a Phase 1 safety and immunogenicity study in Q4 of this year. 

What do we do until a vaccine is finally declared?

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng

The answer may lie in more COVID-19 testing. But where do we get more tests? In downtown Birmingham.

BioGX, a molecular diagnostics company funded in Birmingham 2007, is manufacturing and distributing COVID-19 test kits with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And it’s all taking place inside Birmingham’s very own Innovation Depot

A Gold Standard Method Test

Birmingham, COVID test, COVID-19
COVID testing. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

According to the Birmingham Business Alliance, BioGX, which began working on a test for COVID-19 as soon as the pandemic began, has the capability to produce tests in high quantities. 

The BioGX COVID-19 test uses the gold standard method of virus detection, which is a gene signature amplification method that allows for highly-sensitive and specific results within one to two hours.

“We believe that if we can screen everyone going back to work, we can reduce the spread of the virus and knock the infection rates down to get back to some level of normal life. Of course, the most important reason for testing is to stop the spread of the virus so we can save lives.”

Michael Vickery, Ph.D., Chief Scientist Officer and Executive Vice President, BioGX

With a staff of 70 working seven days a week, BioGX has already made hundred of thousands of tests that have been shipped to hospitals and labs across the world. 

What are your thoughts on more COVID-19 testing and an upcoming vaccine? Let us know on social @bhamnow.