Cambridge Researchers Develop Groundbreaking Vaccine to Combat Future Coronavirus Strains

Vaccine to Combat Future Coronavirus Strains
Vaccine to Combat Future Coronavirus Strains. Credit | Getty images

United States – Researchers are developing a vaccine that could be effective against SARS-CoV-2 strains that have not yet been detected or emerged.

The team of Brits at the University of Cambridge have shown astounding results in such mice models. Mouse studies don’t always translate into humans, but Rory Hills, the first author, is hopeful, hoping for a breakthrough solution as quickly as possible, as reported by HealthDay.

“Our focus is to create a vaccine that will protect us against the next coronavirus pandemic and have it ready before the pandemic has even started,” Hills, a graduate pharmacology researcher at Cambridge, said in a university news release.

Anticipating the Next Pandemic

In contrast to the traditional model, Hill’s team implemented a new way of vaccine development called “proactive vaccinology,” which means preventing certain viral strains that are not currently here but may happen in the future.

“We don’t have to wait for new coronaviruses to emerge. We know enough about coronaviruses and different immune responses to them that we can start building protective vaccines against unknown coronaviruses now,” explained study senior author and Cambridge professor of pharmacology Mark Howarth.

Nanotech is here to stay as well. Vaccines serve by making the human immune system able to recognize a single “antigen” on the germ’s surface, which is key to the virus. Being in a single antigen might be a weak point in case of new strains arising.

Nanotechnology Breakthrough

In their latest study, a group of researchers from Cambridge University used a nanoparticle called a Quartet Nanocage, a hollow protein ball composed of incredibly strong interactions.

To do so, researchers generated a different set of viral antigens that placed themselves within this nanocage.

It follows that such a vaccine would enable the immune cells to sense the structure as a foreign to invade and get rid of a wide range of viruses, including this coronavirus.

Promising Results in Mice Trials

Visual Representation. Credit | REUTERS

Mice trials imply that the approach is workable.

Researchers said that to provide an example, the mice vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine did not include the SARS-CoV-1 coronavirus, the cause of the 2003 SARS outbreak, yet those who received it were protected against it.

According to the researchers, the nanocage vaccine lends itself to a relatively simple set-up, which might benefit it during human clinical trials.

Building Vaccines for the Future

“We’ve created a vaccine that protects against a broad range of coronaviruses – including ones we don’t even know about yet,” Hills said, as reported by HealthDay.

Howarth stated in the press release that the latest initiatives expand on earlier achievements.

“Scientists did a great job in quickly producing an extremely effective COVID vaccine during the last pandemic, but the world still had a massive crisis with a huge number of deaths,” he said. “We need to work out how we can do even better than that in the future, and a powerful component of that is starting to build the vaccines in advance.”