Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, USA have just published a potential vaccine study against SARS-CoV-2, the new corona virus strain that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic. The special thing is that this vaccine is distributed in the form of patches.
Vaccine patches have numerous tiny needles containing antigens, which can produce enough antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 through the skin without pain.
Test results for this vaccine on mice were published by Lancet Medical Journal. This is the first published peer-reviewed COVID-19 vaccine study – a gold standard for scientific research.
The authors of the article said that the reason they were able to travel faster than other research groups was because they had experience working with the corona virus since the SARS pandemic in 2003 and MERS in 2014.
US scientists develop COVID-19 vaccine patch, which delivers antigens directly to the skin
“Previously, we had experience studying SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses were closely related to SARS-CoV-2, and they taught us that there was a protein. In particular, called prickly protein, plays a very important role in creating immunity“, one of the study authors, said Dr. Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“We know exactly where to fight this new virus. That’s why sponsoring vaccine research is so important. [Các nghiên cứu vắc-xin trong quá khứ thường bị cắt tài trợ giữa chừng khi dịch bệnh kết thúc]But you never know where the next pandemic will come from. ”
“Our ability to rapidly develop vaccines is the result of collaboration between scientists with expertise in many different areas of research.“, Said Dr. Louis Falo, Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
We now know that a COVID-19 vaccine based on the new mRNA technology of Moderna Therapeutics is being clinically tested in humans. In comparison to it, the University of Pittsburgh vaccine – dubbed PittCoVacc – uses a more traditional approach but has more effective grounds and is easier to produce on a larger scale.
They use laboratory-raised proteins to activate the human immune system, helping it recognize and destroy corona virus. This approach is similar to seasonal flu shots still being implemented each year.
Prof. Louis Falo and Dr. Andrea Gambotto talk about the COVID-19 vaccine they are developing.
In this study, the researchers also used a new method to deliver vaccines, called micro-needle patches. It promises to increase the effectiveness of each vaccine dose. The finger-sized sticker, containing 400 tiny needles, provides pieces of prickly protein through the skin, where the strongest immune response is available.
It can be applied to your skin like an urgo-patch, the needles are made entirely of sugar, and after they have completed the task of putting the protein in, the needle will dissolve.
“We developed this method based on the traditional idea of old times, when doctors created scratches on the skin to put smallpox vaccine into the body. But this is a high-tech version that works better for patients“, Professor Falo said.”And it’s really painless, it’s just like a Velcro “.
Regarding the potential for production scale, the scientists said their prickly protein is grown in cells. They can expand the production scale by expanding the biological reaction environment containing cell culture.
Protein refining can also be done on an industrial scale. Meanwhile, micro needle stickers are made simply by mixing sugar with prickly protein and rotating in a centrifuge. Once manufactured, the vaccine can be stored at room temperature, so you do not need refrigeration during transport or storage.
The University of Pittsburgh vaccine uses fairly simple old technology for mass production.
“For most vaccines, you don’t need to prove it is capable of large-scale production in the first place.“, said Dr. Gambotto. “But when you try to develop a rapid vaccine against a pandemic, that’s the first requirement.”
When tested on mice, PittCoVacc led to soaring antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 within 2 weeks. The mice have not been followed long-term, but the researchers said their MERS-CoV vaccine previously produced the same antibody level, and the mice were able to create a level of immunity to the virus. for at least 1 year.
It is now important to demonstrate that microscopic patches containing SARS-CoV-2 vaccine remain valid after gamma radiation disinfection – an important step in creating a suitable product. Suitable for use in humans.
The authors are currently in the process of obtaining approval for this new vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And they are expected to begin phase I clinical trials in humans over the next few months.
“Testing in patients will usually take at least a year and may take longer “, Professor Falo said. “But the current situation is different from anything we’ve ever seen, so we don’t know how long the clinical development will take. But the normal processes have been recently revised to show we can move faster. “.