Scientists want a vaccine against several coronaviruses to prevent the next pandemic

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Dr. Modjarad, an emerging infectious disease researcher in the US military, is pursuing vaccines to protect against various coronaviruses that cause disease in humans, including COVID-19 variants that can survive today’s vaccines. Growth.

The goal is to stop the next new thing from spreading around the world. Such shots can stop the coronavirus, which causes some of the common cold.

His research team is one of about 20 groups around the world working on a so-called universal or pancoronavirus vaccine. This is a shot that simultaneously blocks several related viruses, including those that haven’t infected anyone yet. After years of fighting Ebola, Zika, the H1N1 pandemic flu, and other new pathogens, Dr. Mozarad and other emerging infectious disease experts nail down the next new pathogen. I want to get a vaccine for this.

Kayvan Modjerd’s research team is one of about 20 groups around the world working on a pancoronavirus vaccine.

Photo:
Ellen Kaplan and Mike Walters

Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Division at the Walter Reed Army Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dr. “It is not just a way out of this pandemic, but a way out of the cycle of this pandemic,” Mozarad said. ..

Three deadly new coronaviruses have emerged in the past 18 years, including the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and scientists have warned that another is likely. Many animals, including bats and rabbits, carry a coronavirus that can spread to humans. According to scientists, millions of people around the world are exposed to the pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2, increasing the risk of developing new vaccine-resistant mutants.

“We need to be proactive in dealing with these and many other viruses,” said David Wesler, a biochemist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who is testing experimental vaccines against a group of coronaviruses. ..

Scientists have spent years developing a universal vaccine against the flu, but have not yet succeeded. Coronaviruses, which mutate frequently and have few obvious strains, may be easy targets. However, scientists say it could take years to develop something that protects against most of the coronaviruses that infect humans, and there are many challenges in the process.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, an Oslo-based organization that funds the development of vaccines for pandemic diseases, has invested $200 million in grants to fund the early development of vaccines that largely protect against the dreaded coronavirus. Work. The US National Institute for Allergic Infectious Diseases, where scientists are studying how vaccines for the coronavirus are made, added $36 million to other researchers, including on teams at Duke University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We are offering a prize of $95 million. in Boston.

Several companies are developing a multivalent COVID-19 vaccine that targets the SARS-CoV-2 mutant. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, said: “He said.

“”“Before trying to go to Mars, we have to prove that we can reach the Moon.”


– Kayvan Modjrad, Walter Reed Army Research Institute

Currently developed vaccines do not protect against all coronaviruses. Viruses are so different from each other that creating a vaccine that targets everything is a scientific challenge. Most researchers focus on vaccines against salvacoviruses first. This is a group of greatest concern because it includes the pathogens behind COVID-19 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

If they can successfully create a salbecovirus vaccine, the next step is to create a vaccine that blocks betacoronavirus. This includes salvacoviruses and the viruses that cause MERS. It was first detected in 2012 and has a mortality rate of around 35%. There are also two viruses in this group that cause the common cold.

“Before we try to go to Mars, we need to prove that we can reach the moon,” said Dr. Modjarad.

Dennis Burton, an immunologist at Scripps Research, said recent studies on antibodies in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 have helped accelerate vaccine development. He and other researchers have identified “broad neutralizing antibodies” that inhibit both pandemic and primate virus cousins. He said he could then develop a vaccine that would produce those antibodies when given to a patient.

Neutralizing Antibody MERS Test at the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul.

Photo:
Ed Jones / Agence France-Press / Getty Images

To create a universal vaccine, researchers look for parts of the viral pathogen that are similar to or protected against a related virus. Many people focus on targeted coronavirus peplomers. This exits the surface of the virus and allows the virus to latch onto and infect human cells.

Dr. Modjarad of the US Army and colleagues recently tested an experimental vaccine that contained a copy of the SARS-CoV-2 peplomer attached to soccer ball-sized nanoparticles made of ferritin, a blood protein that binds to iron. stores the . did. The researchers reported that the vaccine protected macaques from the original pandemic virus. The vaccinated macaque sera also fought off all the major SARS types, Dr. Modjarad said.

Researchers are currently analyzing data from early-stage clinical trials of the vaccine in humans and found similar vaccines in mice aimed at protecting against a large number of betacoronaviruses, including the virus which causes MERS. We are testing, Dr. Mojrad said.

David Martinez, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, began designing a vaccine against SARS-like viruses in April 2020, when a pandemic broke out in the United States. To start thinking about prevention of SARS3,” he said.

David Martinez in the laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in June.

Photo:
John Gardiner / UNC-Chapel Hill

He and his colleagues used messenger RNA as a mod Ltd.

and pfizer Ltd.

and BioNTech SE with their COVID-19 vaccine. They cobbled together the genetic code from the spike protein fragments of four SARS-like viruses (SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and two bat viruses) instead of genetic material from a single coronavirus. ..

Dr. Martinez had to wait until November to produce the hybrid vaccine because Pfizer and Moderna Vaccine also lacked the necessary ingredients. When the experimental vaccine was tested in rats, it protected them from COVID-19 mutants, bat coronaviruses and other viruses.

The research team is seeking funding for early-stage clinical trials in humans and developing a vaccine against MERS and related betacoronaviruses, Dr. Martinez said.

At the University of Washington, Dr. Weisler and his colleagues created a COVID-19 vaccine from virus-like nanoparticles that bind to copies of the part of the virus’s peplomer that binds to human cell receptors. The vaccine is currently in clinical trials as of late.

After identifying some broadly neutralizing antibodies for viruses such as SARS, the researchers set out to design “Version 2.0” of the vaccine, Dr. Wiesler said. They linked to nanoparticle copies of SARS-CoV-2 and fragments of peplumer proteins from three similar viruses: one that causes SARS and two bat coronaviruses. When tested in mice, the vaccine has shown that it can provide comprehensive protection against viruses such as SARS.

The team is currently purifying the vaccine and is planning further trials.

Researchers have also identified several antibodies that fight a broad class of betacoronaviruses, including those that cause MERS, Dr. Wesler said. However, there are challenges that must be overcome. He said the antibodies are one-and-a-half to one-third as effective as other antibodies and are less common.

Antibodies “pave the way for designing a pancoronavirus vaccine,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”

write to Betsy McKay of betsy.mckay + 1 @ wsj.com

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Scientists want a vaccine against several coronaviruses to prevent the next pandemic

Source Link Scientists want a vaccine against multiple coronaviruses to prevent the next pandemic

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