BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Clinical trials will begin on an intra-nasal COVID-19 vaccine that was tested on mice by UAB researchers last year.

The FDA approved Altimmune’s AdCOVID for human study to begin this week.

In addition to being needle free, an intra-nasal vaccine could also have other advantages.

“Having a vaccine that works at that site really makes sense as far as preventing the infection from getting in. The other thing it can do is prevent the infection from getting out. This vaccine could not only prevent disease in the vaccine recipient but it could also prevent transmission,” said Dr. Sarah Browne, senior director of vaccine development at Altimmune.

According to Browne, about 180 people will participate in the first phase of clinical trials. Like other vaccines, the goal is to allow the body to recognize and battle the infection. AdCOVID requires only a single dose.

“We’ve got this so-called vector, the adenovirus vector that gets introduced into the nasal mucosa and so those cells that line your nose then can see the piece of the coronavirus protein that they are supposed to recognize and fight off,” she said.

AdCOVID is similar to a FluMist product. Doctors hope the needle-free alternative will provide a safe alternative treatment for children.

At UAB, professors who took part in research during preclinical trials say the work is still ongoing.

“We have experiments that are still going that are about 8 months in now and they can show that the response is really durable, and that is important in a vaccine because you want it to last a long time,” said Dr. Frances Lund, Charles H. McCauley professor and chair at UAB’s department of microbiology.

Lund said the goal is to develop a local immunity that is long lasting. She said she’s proud of the work her team did on the project, noting not all research leads to human testing.

“We have a lot of really talented researchers and labs here and that allowed us to take something that was just developed in June and already get it to phase 1 clinical trials six or seven months later and that was only possible because there was a lot of labs that worked together,” Lund said.

While UAB will not participate in the first round of human clinical trials, it may do so in future phases.