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Wed, May

Scientists Develop New Vaccine Against Future COVID Viruses

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Scientists have created a vaccine that has the potential to protect against a broad range of coronaviruses, including varieties that are not yet known. The scientists from the University of Canbridge, the University of Oxford, and Caltech in the US are developing a novel approach called "proactive vaccinology" which aims to train the body's immune system to recognise several different coronaviruses. The vaccine is made by attaching harmless proteins from different coronaviruses to minuscule nanoparticles that are then injected to prime the body’s defences to fight the viruses should they ever invade. Because the vaccine trains the immune system to target proteins that are shared across many different types of coronavirus, the protection it induces is extremely broad, making it effective against known and unknown viruses in the same family.

“Our focus is to create a vaccine that will protect us against the next coronavirus pandemic, and have it ready before the pandemic has even started,” said Rory Hills, a graduate researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Pharmacology and first author of the report.

“We’ve created a vaccine that provides protection against a broad range of different coronaviruses – including ones we don’t even know about yet,” he added.

Nanotechnology is also a key element in the research. The Vaccines work by sensitizing the human immune system to spot and attack one key "antigen" on a particular germ's surface. Reliance on a single antigen can become a weakness, however, if new viral strains emerge.

In the new research, the Cambridge group employed a nanoparticle they dubbed a Quartet Nanocage, "a ball of proteins held together by incredibly strong interactions," according to the news release.

Then they engineered a variety of different viral antigens that lodged themselves within this nanocage.

In theory, that means that a vaccine containing this structure could sensitize immune cells to target a myriad of coronavirus types.

 

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