From Feb. 1st —
Ever since Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine in the 18th century, against smallpox, vaccines have worked essentially the same way. Patients get an inoculation containing a weakened or killed germ or some of its key proteins. The body’s immune system reacts to it, and the next time the germ shows up, the body can recognize and neutralize it. …
In recent years, though, scientists have started exploring a different approach. Rather than injecting part of the germ itself, experimental vaccines deliver the genetic blueprints for germ parts and let the patient’s own body manufacture them.
March 7th —
King and his synbio colleagues knew there would be another coronavirus epidemic, like the SARS and MERS outbreaks before this one, he said, “and there will be another one after this,” perhaps from yet another member of this virus family. “We need a universal coronavirus vaccine.”
Achieving that is so high on scientists’ to-do list that when President Trump visited NIH last week, his tour included the lab that’s collaborating with UW’s, and researchers showed him a mock-up of what synthetic biology can do: Design and build nanoparticles out of proteins and attach viral molecules in a repetitive array so that, when the whole thing is packed into a vaccine, it can make people resistant to the new coronavirus. (The human immune system has evolved to interpret repetitive arrangements of molecules as a sign of danger: bacterial cell walls have repetitive chemical groups on them.)
With a few tweaks, the nanoparticle can be studded with molecules from additional coronaviruses to, scientists hope, protect against all of them — the original SARS virus, MERS, and, crucially, a mutated form of the Covid-19-causing virus, called SARS-CoV-2.
March 13th —
A team of Canadian scientists has successfully isolated and grown copies of the coronavirus — bringing the world a step closer to finding a vaccine to fight the deadly illness. …
The lab-grown copies will now be able to help scientists study the pathogen to develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, vaccines, and gain a better understanding of its biology
March 16th —
A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding the trial. KPWHRI is part of NIAID’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium. The open-label trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks. The first participant received the investigational vaccine today.