A highlight from A 'Universal' Coronavirus Vaccine To Prevent the Next Pandemic


In the past twenty years alone. Three corona viruses have caused major human disease outbreaks. I came the original sars virus in two thousand two then middle east respiratory syndrome in two thousand twelve and in two thousand nineteen sars kobe to emerged setting off a global pandemic hundreds more chronic viruses are lurking in baths and other animals. Scientists have warned that some of these viruses could emerge in the future to infect people are current covid nineteen vaccines were specifically designed for sars. Covy too but what if a next generation vaccine could protect against both known and unknown corona viruses scientists. At the walter reed army institute of research in silver spring maryland are working on a so called universal corona virus vaccine. dr cave. jared is leading the effort. we've developed a vaccine specifically for sars covy too but what we've seen in our animal. Studies is that the immune response that it induces against all the variants as well as other corona viruses. Like sars covy one. That was seen back in two thousand and two before covid nineteen majority his army colleague gordon joyous were trying to develop a universal vaccine against a different group of viruses. One that includes lassa virus which is similar to a bola and so when the New corona virus was identified as a coronavirus in the sequence was published january tenth of two thousand twenty that night dr and i had a late night. Conversation about turning or pivoting our work that had been ongoing for other viruses towards this krona viruses and towards krona viruses as a whole their vaccine is known as a spike farrington nanoparticle or spf n. For short it combines tiny particles from a blood protein called farrington with krona virus spike proteins. All corona viruses have these spike proteins on their surface. The vaccine works by presenting the immune system with spike protein over and over again in an ordered fashion but the vaccine wasn't as simple as attaching one protein to another day and his colleagues had to figure out which parts of the spike protein to attach to which type of barrington and how to link the two proteins together. It took months of trying. More than two hundred different combinations. By june of last year the team found one version that succeeded where the others had failed. They then tested the experimental vaccine in mice hamsters and monkeys the team to less conventional animals for testing working with scientists in india. They injected horses with the vaccine to learn how strong the immune response was and they collaborated with researchers at the university of maryland to vaccinate sharks which makes special kinds of antibodies. We saw the same thing over and over again. Regardless of which animal species we were tested in the vaccine produced a potent immune response against the original sars kobe to strain and three of its variants. The animals also developed antibodies against the two thousand and two sars virus. The results are encouraging but animals. Aren't people the army vaccine is now being tested in a small early stage trial in humans. If it works and to save it could lay the foundation for a universal grown virus vaccine the deadly krona viruses. Like sars one murs outsource to have all come from animal populations and there's a strong expectation that this pattern is not going to end anytime soon. So we have to have a platform pre-positioned to anticipate the emergence of new corona viruses. But majority says it's going to take sustained interest and investment from the government and pharma. Company is to get a vaccine like this ready in time for the next pandemic. Our species has tendency to get distracted. We have a very strong appetite for distraction and when something is not in the spotlight when it's not a crisis anymore. We tend to forget and move on to something else so the biggest challenge is going to be maintaining focus on this next step of developing. Vaccines anticipate pandemics. Thanks for listening for sixty seconds. Science i'm emily.

Coming up next