Covid breakthrough as new revolutionary vaccine could help save millions in poor countries

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    Currently, COVID-19 vaccines that have been made need to be stored in cold temperatures and require sophisticated manufacturing capacity. This makes it tricky to produce and distribute them to poorer countries, many of which do not have the required technology needed to store the vaccines. But now, a new type of vaccine that could be far easier to produce and would not need refrigeration is in development.

    The technology could narrow the disparity of vaccine equality and fill the gaps and that the same technology could even be used for vaccines that fight against different diseases.

    Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital conducted a study in mice, where the vaccine gave strong immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.

    The vaccine was successfully freeze-dried and then re-formed without loss of efficacy.

    It stayed both stable and potent for at least seven days at room temperature.

    Different to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use, the new design is entirely protein-based.

    This makes it far easier for more facilities to manufacture it.

    The vaccine has two components: antibodies derived from alpacas, called nanobodies, and the portion of the virus’s spike protein that binds to receptors on human cells.

    Novalia Pishesha, one of the study authors, said: “We could also attach the whole spike protein or other parts of the virus.

    “And we can change the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 variants quickly and easily.”

    The nanobodies are a crucial part of the new vaccine’s technology.

    They are specially designed to target antigen-presenting cells, critical cells in the immune system, by homing to class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens on the cells’ surface.

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    They developed neutralizing antibodies against the spike protein fragment.

    The vaccine also produced strong cellular immunity, stimulating the T helper cells that rally other immune defences.

    Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that use messenger RNA technology, this vaccine is a protein which means that it is easier to produce it on a much larger scale.

    Thibault Harmand, another author of the study, said: “We don’t need a lot of the fancy technology and expertise that you need to make an mRNA vaccine.

    “Skilled workers are currently a bottleneck for production of the Covid vaccine, whereas biopharma has a lot of experience producing protein-based therapeutics at scale.”

    This means the vaccine could be produced at sites all around the world and actually closer to where it would be used, meaning less countries would have to rely on importing batches of the vaccine and could likely roll it out at a much faster pace than we are currently seeing with existing vaccines.

    The report from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital was published in the November 2 issue of PNAS.



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