Stockholm: A team of researchers is developing a coronavirus vaccine designed to be less sensitive to mutations and will likely be equipped for future strains.
As per a study, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, the vaccine showed promising results in mice, and the researchers now hope to be able to take it to safety studies on humans.
“The idea is that it will give broader protection that more resembles that gained after an actual infection and will be a bit more future-proof than the vaccines currently in use,” said researcher Matti Sallberg, professor at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
In this newly published study, the researchers show that the vaccine protects mice against serious infection from the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a variant that can evade the immune response, and activates immune cells (T cells) that recognise the coronavirus found in bats.
Different types of vaccines have been highly instrumental in impeding the pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. One challenge is the virus mutability, which is to say, its ability to change to avoid the human defence response.
Most current vaccines are based on using parts of the coronavirus’s so-called spike protein to trigger the body’s immune response to the virus. It is a good vaccine protein to use, but unfortunately, it is the spike protein where frequent mutations occur, which can impact the vaccines’ effectiveness.
The researchers are, therefore, developing a vaccine containing more parts of the virus, including ones that do not mutate at the same rate as the spike protein.
The vaccine is a DNA vaccine, which means that it comprises DNA sequences that, when injected into the body, make the cells produce the proteins that the DNA sequences contain instructions for, the researchers said.
In this case, it concerns DNA for parts of the spike protein from three different coronavirus variants and DNA for another two virus proteins, called M and N, where mutations are less common.