Sprint to develop virus vaccine

Tracey Ferrier

24/01/2020 2:12:23 PM

University of Queensland researchers are working around the clock to develop a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus in less than six months.

Vaccine virus
Researchers are relying on molecular clamp technology to develop the vaccine.

The researchers have been tasked with rushing a vaccine into existence, using rapid response technology that’s proven effective against other viruses in lab conditions.

The team hopes to have a safe and effective vaccine available for worldwide distribution within six months – and they don’t need the live virus to do it.
Instead they will rely on new technology known as molecular clamp.
The team already has the genetic sequence of the coronavirus and will use that to produce a protein the same as what is on the surface of the virus that also engages the body’s immune defences.
‘By injecting that, we can get an optimal immune response in people that affords protection,’ Dr Keith Chappell from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, said.
The researchers are among three teams around the world tapped by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to try to rapidly develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) has shut down cities in China, including Wuhan where it first surfaced earlier this month. So far it has killed 25 people in China and infected around 850 globally.

Dr Chappell says his team has a gruelling few months ahead, but they will do everything they can to have a safe vaccine available by the end of July, or sooner if possible.
‘That is our goal. It’s an incredibly difficult time frame, but we’ll do our best,’ he told ABC radio.

‘We’ve got a lot of testing ahead of us to make sure that it is both safe and effective before it can go into humans.’
He said there were no guarantees, but the vaccine development technology had proven effective against a number of other viruses in lab experiments.
‘Unfortunately we’re seeing a situation that changes from day to day. Lives have been lost on a daily basis, which is why we’ve swung into action as quickly as possible.’
Australian Associated Press
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