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Current Affairs

Vaccine that targets multiple coronaviruses

Date: 22 April 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Scientists have developed a new type of vaccine that offers protection against not only existing but also future strains of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

 

Background

Mutations in coronavirus are the biggest threat against offering universal protection. The new vaccine can solve a major concern.

 

Details

  • The vaccine is very cheap as it costs only about $1 and its early studies against animals have shown promising results.

  • The new vaccine-production platform involves producing DNA that directs the production of a piece of the virus.

  • This DNA has the capacity to instruct the immune system how to start an immune response against the virus.

  • The vaccine targets the fusion peptide, which is a part of virus’s spike protein. This compound has been observed in all coronaviruses and does not differ among different varieties.

  • Currently developed vaccines do not target the fusion peptide but focuses only the entire spike protein, or just the receptor binding domain (RBD).

  • RBDs undergo frequent mutations that reduce the effects of anti-bodies that particularly target the RBDs.

 

Working

  • Vaccines such as mRNA instruct the creation of a part of the virus by delivering instructions for creating the spike protein of the coronavirus. 

  • The belief is that when the real virus attacks, the immune system will be able to recognise the spike and produce antibodies to counter.

  • In the current technique, after synthesising of DNA for fusion peptide, it will be inserted into another small circle of DNA known as plasmid.

  • The DNA plasmid is then inserted into bacteria so that it can reproduce. The E coli bacteria are used in this method.

 

Way ahead

Researchers believe that further tests and studies are needed before it can undergo human trials and regulatory approvals.