KEY POINTS

  • Pitt Med scientists say they may have found potential coronavirus vaccine
  • They said their lab mice test returned positive results
  • According to researchers, they have applied with the FDA for clinical trial

Researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine say they may have found a likely vaccine for coronavirus infection. The findings of their research were announced Thursday. The scientists voiced out their belief that the vaccine may be rolled out immediately to curb the spread of the disease.

coronavirus potential vaccine claimed to be found by Pitt Med scientists coronavirus potential vaccine claimed to be found by Pitt Med scientists Photo: Tumisu - Pixabay

According to the scientists, the vaccine can be delivered on tiny, fingertip-sized patches. They were able to test it on lab mice, and they said it produced a sufficient amount of antibodies that they believe can counteract the new coronavirus successfully. Their study and the results were also published in EBioMedicine.

A Quick Action

The Pitt Med researchers said they were able to act quickly because they already had conducted research on SARS and MERS, which are also similar coronaviruses. In a statement, the study’s co-senior author, Andrea Gambotto, MD, said the two viruses are related to SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Gambotto said, their previous studies on the two viruses taught them that “a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus.” He also said, “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”

A Potential Vaccine

The vaccine Dr. Gambotto and his team wanted to develop have the same traditional approach similar to ordinary flu vaccines, which uses lab-made bits of viral protein in building immunity. According to the researchers, although they were not able to study the mice for some time, the vaccine was able to produce enough antibodies within two weeks against the coronavirus.

The authors of the study are now seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for an investigational new drug. The researchers hope to begin human clinical trials in the next couple of months.

Patch Instead Of Needle

The Pitt Med researchers said they opted to use a patch instead of a conventional needle in delivering the spike protein to the skin. The scientists say it is the skin that elicits the strongest immune reaction.

They said the patch has 400-minute “microneedles” that are made of protein and sugar pieces. It will be applied to the skin like a Band-Aid with its needles said to dissolve into the skin. In a news release, the researchers said that the vaccine would be “highly scalable” for general use. Dr. Gambotto also said that for many types of vaccines, there is no need to address the issue of scalability. “But when you try to develop a vaccine quickly against a pandemic, that’s the first requirement,” the co-senior author said.