The research for a vaccine against coronavirus is making progress... And for good reason, over a hundred vaccine projects are currently being studied and for some, clinical trials are already ongoing, everywhere across the world. Let's have a closer look at the research.
In late April, the WHO said 76 research projects for a vaccine, including five in clinical trial, were ongoing. A number that kept on increasing since this past Monday May 11th, the Organization reported 110 and eight of them were at the clinical trial stage. A rather different number for the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medeicine, that includes 157 vaccine projects and 11 of them are being tested clinically.
These projects, the World Health Organization have ordered them in eight categories matching the "types of vaccines tested or on the contrary, experimental" our peers at Ouest France say. Among them, we have "live attenuated", "inactive", "subunit" (based on proteins), "viral vector" (using virus made to create an immune reaction and produce antibodies naturally) or even, more innovative, "DNA" and "RNA" vacine projects using genetically modified materials.
American research at the cutting edge
Perhaps it is the good news for populations confined in the world because of the coronavirus pandemic…. Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have announced, in the very serious medical journal The Lancet, they may have found a potential vaccine to block COVID-19. An announcement that mostly gave an update on the discoveries made by the team of scientists explaining they think they developed a vaccine to “significantly impact the spread of disease”.
How could the latter be delivered? It could be a patch very easy to use for a painless delivery, to put on the finger. Ph. D. Louis Falo, scientist at the School of Medicine, interviewed by CBS Pittsburgh explains: “It’s a lot like a band-aid with hundreds of small needles. In this particular case, the needles are made out of the sugar substance, and we actually incorporate the vaccine directly into the needles”. How does it work? He explains: “When the microneedles are hard, they’re able to penetrate the outer layers of the skin. And, then, as they absorb moisture, they actually dissolve and release the antigen into the skin”.
World research against coronavirus
A meaningful breakthrough but it doesn’t mean it will be commercialized now. As the others, this study has to follow a process. As for this American study, after screenings on ice, that has been conclusive, clinical trials on humans can now be performed which could take years. Beside this study, other researches are carried out everywhere in the world. For instance, lately, several scientists have hypothesized that BCG, vaccine against tuberculosis among other, could work to stop COVID-19. Clinical trials are being carried out in the Netherlands at the Radboud University Medical Center in partnership with the Utrecht University.
We can also name American pharmaceutic company Johnson & Johnson working on a vaccine, or the German Max-Planck Institute for Infection Biology working on another genetically modified vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India laboratory. In Australia, the CSIRO or Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, has already set up pre-clinical tests (on animals) for two potential vaccines, one developed by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, the other by Inovio Pharmaceuticals in the United States.
The biotech branch is also ready to go into battle, like Moderna Therapeutics, more into genetics, that launched a study relying on the principle of “proteinic therapies”. The idea developed by Moderna Therapeutics? Reprogramming mRNA, the messenger ribonucleic acid, so that our organism produces itself the proteins needed to fight against the virus. Whatever the outcome, it will take quite a while to get proper vaccine. The most optimistic scientists think they will have an operational vaccine within a year or more. Let’s hope the crises will be over before that.