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article imageThe path towards the coronavirus vaccine

By Tim Sandle     Mar 28, 2020 in Science
Researchers based at the University of Oxford indicate they have identified a potential vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The scientists are working towards the first clinical trials. This and four other coronavirus developments are summarized.
The vaccine being developed at Oxford University contains the genetic sequence formed from the so-called the “spike” protein, which is found on the outside of the coronavirus. The drug will work in that, following vaccination, the surface spike protein of the coronavirus is produced. This functions to strengthen the body's immune system to attack the coronavirus, if an individual subsequently becomes infected. if it later infects the body.
Testing vaccines
The Oxford vaccine is a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) and it has been shown to produce an effective immune response from just one dose. Importantly, as this is not a replicating virus, the vaccine cannot trigger an infection in the vaccinated person.
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In similar news, the biotechnology firm Moderna has commenced a clinical trial into a coronavirus vaccine. This vaccine is similar to the Oxford one, also working on the basis of the spike protein.
Coronavirus
Coronavirus
Gal ROMA, AFP
Plus, Sanofi’s Pasteur vaccines unit has entered into partnership with Translate Bio to research an mRNA vaccine against the coronavirus, as reported on FierceBiotech. At this stage, the use of mRNA technology to produce a vaccine is untested. The reason why he French-U.S. collaboration is taking place is because this biotechnology has the potential to produce a vaccine in a fraction of the time taken to ordinarily manufacture a vaccine using the more conventional approaches based on cell cultures and eggs.
Big pharma firms comes together
According to PharmaPhorum, a consortium of life sciences firms, including major players like Novartis and Johnson & Johnson, are coming together to develop and produce a combination of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to challenge the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additional support has been provided by the finance group Mastercard.
The first foreign fatality from the new coronavirus has occured in the Philippines
The first foreign fatality from the new coronavirus has occured in the Philippines
Ted ALJIBE, AFP
In all there are fifteen firms in the arrangement, and the corporations have agreed share their proprietary libraries of molecular compounds (once they have cleared an initial assessment of safety and activity data). The activity is being coordinated by Bill and Melinda Gates via their charitable body, the Gates Foundation. The new initiative is called the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.
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According to Mark Suzman, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: "If we want to make the world safe from outbreaks like COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable, then we need to find a way to make research and development move faster. That requires governments, private enterprise, and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund R&D."
Antibody test
Celltrion is underway with developing an antibody-based antiviral and a self-testing diagnosis kit, which promises results in relation to the novel cornavirus within 15-20 minutes. This process will utlize library of antibodies from the recovered patients in Korea.
France has now detected a total of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus
France has now detected a total of 11 cases of the novel coronavirus
JEFF PACHOUD, AFP/File
In addition, the South Korean company has been selected as a preferred developer for a monoclonal antibody project to treat and prevent COVID-19, as authorized by the Korea Centers for Disease Control.
Rapid and portable test approved by FDA for emergencies
A portable test is in development that could determine whether a person has the novel coronavirus in no more than five minutes. This kit comes from Abbott Laboratories, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now given emergency authorization for the firm to start making the test available to healthcare providers.
The test kit is said to be no larger than a kitchen toaster and it works on the basis on molecular technology. While a positive result is produced in a round five minutes; it will take 13 minutes to confirm a negative test result.
Support from the tech industry
Software firm NVIDIA has allowed its Parabricks genome-sequencing software to be made available free to scientists engaged in sequencing the coronavirus as well as the genomes of patients displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Worldwide fatalities from the new coronavirus have topped 8 000
Worldwide fatalities from the new coronavirus have topped 8,000
Joseph Prezioso, AFP
Parabricks is a powerful piece of software, capable of reducing the typical time to assess the entire human genome from two days to one hour.
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