Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are saying that they may have developed a vaccine for coronavirus.
In a study published in EBioMedicine on Thursday, the experts described the potential vaccine as a “promising immunization strategy,” and they noted that it could be introduced and distributed quickly enough to “significantly impact the spread of disease.”
Known as PittCoVacc, the vaccine is “made of dissolvable sugar and bits of a particular protein known as the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to cells and infect its host,” according to The Blaze. Researchers have already tested the vaccine on mice, and they concluded that it produces what is believed to be a sufficient number of antibodies needed to counteract the virus.
The researchers explained that they were able to develop this vaccine so quickly because of past vaccines they had made for other similar diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus,” said co-senior author Andrea Gambotto, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine. “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” he added.
The University of Pittsburgh distributed a press release saying that researchers created the vaccine the old-fashioned way “using lab-made pieces of viral protein to build immunity,” which is the same way flu shots work. However, this vaccine is delivered in a new way using a small fingertip-sized patch that resembles a Band-Aid.
“It’s actually pretty painless — it feels kind of like Velcro,” said co-senior author Louis Falo, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of dermatology at Pitt’s School of Medicine and UPMC. The research team is now trying to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the vaccine on humans, and they hope officials will fast-track the normally lengthy process.
“Testing in patients would typically require at least a year and probably longer,” Falo said. “This particular situation is different from anything we’ve ever seen, so we don’t know how long the clinical development process will take. Recently announced revisions to the normal processes suggest we may be able to advance this faster.”
Needless to say, it would be huge if this vaccine turns out to actually be capable of fighting COVID-19. We can only hope that this vaccine is indeed successful, and that we are able to eradicate coronavirus once and for all, as soon as possible.