A Step in The Right Direction: Vaccine Tested on Mice Successfully Neutralises Coronavirus

THE vaccine, which is administered through a fingertip-sized patch, generates antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 in small enough amounts to neutralise the virus.

A vaccine tested on mice has shown the ability to generate an immune system response which is capable of neutralising the new coronavirus causing the Covid-19 pandemic. The data, published by EbioMedicine, represents a breakthrough in the control of the disease, which to date has already affected more than 954,000 people and caused 49,000 deaths worldwide.

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh, in the United States, assure that their vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 which is administered via a small fingertip-sized patch is capable of generating enough antibodies to neutralise the virus.

This article is the first peer-reviewed study which highlights a candidate vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic. On this occasion, researchers were able to act quickly because they had already the groundwork laid out during the beginning of the coronavirus epidemics.

“We had previous experience with SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, taught us that a particular protein, called a peak protein, is important in inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” explains co-author Andrea Gambotto, who expressed the importance of funding vaccine research, as “you never know where the next pandemic will come from.

“Our ability to rapidly develop this vaccine is a result of scientists in various research areas coming together to work for a common goal,” said co-lead author, Louis Falo.

Researchers used a novel approach to administer the drug, through a micro-needle matrix which aims to increase potency. This matrix is the size of a fingertip and is comprised of 400 tiny needles that deliver the protein pieces of the spike into the skin, creating the strongest immune reaction possible. The patch remains on like a band-aid and then the needles which are made entirely out of sugar and protein simply dissolve into the skin.

The positive thing about protein purification is that this can be done on an industrial scale. Mass production of the micro-needle matrix involves spinning the protein-sugar mixture in a mould using a centrifuge. Once manufactured the vaccine can remain at room temperature until needed, eliminating the need for refrigeration during transport or storage.

“In most vaccines there is no need to address scalability in such early stages,” says Gambotto, “but when you try to develop a vaccine quickly to battle a pandemic, that’s the first requirement.”

The researchers are now in the process of requesting an approval for a new investigational drug from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before starting a Phase I clinal trial in humans in the upcoming months.

“Patient testing would generally take at least a year and probably more,” admits Phallus, “this situation is unlike anything we’ve seen before, so we don’t know how long the clinical development process will take. Recently announced reviews of normal process suggest we could move at a quicker pace.”

Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.