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SLU researchers working on new COVID-19 vaccine trial

Researchers are almost done with the first of three phases and need more volunteers to be part of the trial.

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University researchers are currently working on a new COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Researchers say the Gritstone COVID-19 vaccine will work with the vaccines many people already have like Pfizer and Moderna and actually help to create multiple layers of protection against the virus.

Director of the SLU Center for Vaccine Development Dr. Daniel Hoft said the Gritstone COVID-19 vaccine is designed to target several coronavirus proteins in addition to spike proteins, which we've heard a lot about with the current vaccines.

“We're still worried about the virus mutating to a point where it would escape all of the current immune responses based upon neutralizing antibodies against the spike protein,” Dr. Hoft said.

The current vaccines trigger an immune system response that then produces antibodies. 

The Gritstone vaccine focuses on what's called the T-cell and T-cell response.

“If you can't make antibodies, you're dependent on your T cells to protect the body,” Dr. Hoft said.

He said T-cells actually recognize cells infected with the virus and stop it from spreading.

“By having all of these other sequences in there, they have the potential to induce these T-cell responses that are different from what the licensed approved COVID vaccines can induce right now,” Dr. Hoft said.

Dr. Hoft said the new vaccine can protect a person from several different COVID-19 variants and they hope this study can help fight other illnesses.

“What we're learning about vaccines and the ability to induce a strong T-cell response with these vaccines will be important for helping the other fields around us that are developing vaccines for these other major global health problems,” Dr. Hoft said.

They're almost done with the first of three phases and actually need more volunteers to be part of the trial.

They're looking for adults 60 years old and up who have had their first Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines and only one booster shot.

The person also needs to be healthy without any significant allergies.

To volunteer, you can email vaccine@slu.edu or call 866-410-6333.

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