LONDON, Aug 26 - The University of Cambridge on Wednesday confirmed plans to begin trials of a potential new vaccine not only against COVID-19 but all coronaviruses that may spill over from animals to humans in the future.
The new vaccine candidate, DIOS-CoVax2, uses banks of genetic sequences of all known coronaviruses, including those from bats, believed to be the natural hosts of many relatives of human coronaviruses.
A vaccine that clears all trials can then be delivered pain-free without a needle into the skin through a spring-powered jet injection.
�Our approach involves 3D computer modelling of the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus� structure. It uses information on the virus itself as well as its relatives SARS, MERS and other coronaviruses carried by animals that threaten to spill over to humans again to cause future human epidemics,� said Prof Jonathan Heeney, head of the Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics at the University of Cambridge, and founder of DIOSynVax, a Cambridge spin-out company.
Prof Heeney said his team�s strategy involves targeting those domains of the virus� structure that are absolutely critical for docking with a cell, while avoiding the parts that could make things worse. �What we end up with is a mimic, a synthetic part of the virus minus those non-essential elements that could trigger a bad immune response,� he added.
His team has developed libraries of computer-generated antigen structures encoded by synthetic genes that can train the human immune system to target key regions of the virus and to produce beneficial anti-viral responses.
These immune responses include neutralising antibodies, which block virus infection, and T-cells, which remove virus-infected cells.
The news comes as the University of Oxford revealed that its trials of a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being developed with AstraZeneca could be put before regulators this year if scientists are able to gather enough data.
The Oxford vaccine, as it is commonly known, showed early promise in the first human trial when it produced an immune response, underlining its position as one of the leading candidates in the race to help vaccinate humans against the deadly novel coronavirus. � PTI