Washington, April 3
Researchers have tested a potential vaccine for COVID-19 in mice, which when delivered through a fingertip-sized patch, produced an immune response specific to the novel coronavirus at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralising the virus.
The study, published in the journal ‘EBioMedicine’, noted that when tested in mice, the PittCoVacc — short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine — generated a surge of antibodies against the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, within two weeks of delivering it.
"We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus," said co-senior author Andrea Gambotto from the University of Pittsburgh in the US. "We knew exactly where to fight this new virus," Gambotto added.
The scientists said, the vaccine described in the current study follows a more established approach, using lab-made pieces of viral protein to build immunity. They said it works the same way as current flu shots.
The researchers also used a novel approach to deliver the drug, called a microneedle array, to increase potency. They said this array is a fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny needles that delivers the spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is strongest. According to the scientists, the patch goes on like a Band-Aid and then the needles, made entirely of sugar and the protein pieces, simply dissolve into the skin.
“We developed this to build on the original scratch method used to deliver the smallpox vaccine to the skin, but as a high-tech version that is more efficient and reproducible patient to patient," said co-author Louis Falo from the University of Pittsburgh.— PTI
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