A vaccine against all future coronaviruses?
An American research team is currently working on a universal vaccine that is said to be effective against all types of coronavirus. The vaccine has the potential to prevent pandemics from further SARS-CoV-2 mutations or from other coronaviruses. The vaccine has already achieved good results in mice.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are developing a vaccine that could be effective not only against COVID-19, but against all coronaviruses. The vaccine is also said to protect against future coronavirus variants that could develop in the future. The first results of the research work were recently presented in the renowned science journal “Science”.
Coronaviruses have a high pandemic potential
Although no one knows which virus could threaten the world next, coronaviruses in general have high pandemic potential, as demonstrated by the SARS virus in 2003 or the MERS virus in 2012 – both viruses are SARS-CoV-2 related to the coronavirus, which is currently responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vulnerability of current corona vaccines
The currently available vaccines are effective against the well-known SARS-CoV-2 variants, but they also have a weak point: They concentrate on an area of the virus, the so-called spike protein, which is also the part of the virus that most mutated. There is therefore a risk that future variants will be able to bypass vaccination protection. To prevent this from happening, the UNC Chapel Hill working group wants to produce a vaccine that not only switches off SARS-CoV-2, but also a whole group of coronaviruses more reliably.
“Our results look promising for the future as they suggest that we can design more universal pan-coronavirus vaccines to proactively protect ourselves against viruses that we know are at risk of occurring in humans” explains David R. Martinez, one of the lead authors of the study. With this strategy one could perhaps prevent the occurrence of SARS-CoV-3.
Second generation vaccine
As part of the coronavirus pandemic, so-called mRNA vaccines were used for the first time on a large scale – a new generation of vaccines that contain genetic information about the virus and thus prepare the immune system for its arrival.
While the first generation of corona mRNA vaccines only contain information about the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the second generation currently under development should protect against a whole range of spike proteins known from coronaviruses, who could make the leap from animals to humans. Thus, the vaccine would also protect against possible future coronavirus pandemics.
Sarbecoviruses are the most dangerous coronaviruses
The researchers are targeting the genus of the so-called Sarbecoviruses, a subgenus of the coronaviruses. According to the working group, this group of viruses is the top priority because they have spawned devastating new diseases such as SARS and COVID-19 over the past two decades.
Mice produced antibodies against various coronaviruses
The new generation of vaccines thus contains mRNA information about several coronaviruses and thus in theory creates more universal vaccination protection. Tests on mice have already shown that the animals that received the experimental vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against several different coronavirus spike proteins. Including antibodies that act more specifically against the South African B.1.351 variant.
The vaccine is to be tested on humans in 2022
The vaccine prevented infection and lung damage in mice that were brought into contact with several different coronaviruses, the researchers conclude. Clinical trials on humans are scheduled to begin in 2022. (vb)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: New universal coronavirus vaccine could prevent future pandemics (veröffentlicht: 25.06.2021), uncnews.unc.edu
- David R. Martinez, Alexandra Schäfer, Sarah R. Leist, et al.: Chimeric spike mRNA vaccines protect against Sarbecovirus challenge in mice; in: Science, 2021, science.sciencemag.org
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.