U.S. Researchers' Vaccine Could Generate Enough Antibodies to Fight Off Covid-19

Saturday, April 4, 2020 - 10:41

Based on the first peer-reviewed study carried out by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, a potential coronavirus vaccine could produce antibodies capable of fighting off Covid-19.

The vaccine, which was tested on mice by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, generated the antibodies in quantities thought to be enough to “neutralize” the virus within two weeks of injection, the Independent reports.

The study’s authors are now set to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for investigational new drug approval ahead of phase one human clinical trials planned to start in the next few months.

“These two viruses, which are closely related to [Covid-19], teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The vaccine candidate, which the authors are calling PittCoVacc, uses lab-made pieces of viral protein to build immunity in the same way as a flu jab.

To increase potency, the researchers also used a new drug delivery approach involving of a fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny microneedles that inject the spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is strongest. The patch is stuck on like a plaster and the needles – which are made entirely of sugar and the protein pieces – simply dissolve into the skin.

“We developed this to build on the original scratch method used to deliver the smallpox vaccine to the skin, but as a high-tech version that is more efficient and reproducible patient to patient,” said study co-author Louis Falo, professor and chair of dermatology. “And it’s actually pretty painless – it feels kind of like Velcro.”

The results have not yet been tracked in the long term, but the mice who were given the Pittsburgh researchers’ Mers vaccine candidate developed enough antibodies to neutralise the virus for at least a year. The antibody levels of the rodents vaccinated against Covid-19 “seem to be following the same trend,” according to the researchers.

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