Washington.- A vaccine candidate that neutralizes the virus SARS-CoV-2cause of the pandemic of the COVID-19, it was successfully tested on mice by researchers of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, but scientists warn that testing with humans could take months.
According to an article published on Thursday EBioMedicine, of the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet, when tested in mice, the vaccine administered through a patch on the size of the tip of a finger, it produces specific antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 in amounts that are considered sufficient to neutralize the virus.
This is the first study which is diffused after having been subjected to the criticism of other researchers from institutions outside the University of Pittsburgh.
“We had previous experiences with the virus SARS-CoV in 2003, and with MERS-CoV in 2014,” says Andrea Gambotto, a professor of surgery in the Faculty of Medicine UP, in reference to two viruses that are “closely-related SARS-CoV-2”, which is the cause of the COVID-19, a disease that has already affected close to a million people all over the world.
These experiences, added to Gambotto, have taught scientists that a particular protein, known as “spike” (a kind of key that is inserted in the ACE2 receptor of human cells to penetrate them), it is “important to induce immunity against the virus.”
“We knew exactly where to combat this new virus, hence the importance of funding research to find vaccines. One never knows from where will come the next pandemic,” adds he added the researcher.
Compared with the possible experimental vaccine mRNA just starting to be the subject of clinical trials, the vaccine described by these authors, and they call PittCoVacc, by the abbreviation of Vaccine Pittsburgh Coronavirus, “is a more established, using parts of viral protein made in the laboratory to encourage the immunity”.
The scientists explained in their scientific article that it is the same mechanism by which vaccines work against the flu.
In addition, the researchers used a novel method for administering the compound, called a set of microneedles, in order to increase the power.
This consists of a patch of the size of the tip of a finger with 400 needles can be too small to manage the parts of the protein “spike” in the skin where the immune reaction is stronger.
The patch adheres as a band-aid and then the needles that are made entirely of sugar and the pieces of protein, simply dissolve in the skin.
Louis Falo, director of the chair of Dermatology in the school of medicine of the University of Pittsburgh and is another of the study’s authors, explained that this method was developed taking advantage of scaling the original that is used with the measles vaccine “, but with a high-tech version of that is more efficient and can be replicated from patient to patient.”
“In fact, it is almost painless, feels like a kind of velcro,” he said.
When the researchers tested the PittCoVacc in laboratory mice, the animals generated an increase of the antibody of SARS-CoV-2 within the two weeks following the application of the microneedles.
The scientists explained that it has not yet been done long term follow-up but have been able to determine that the mice that had received their vaccine MERS-CoV produced a level of antibodies sufficient to neutralize the virus during at least one year, and until now the levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the vaccinated animals appears to follow the same trend.
The authors are in the pipeline now the application for approval of a new drug in research of the Food and Drug Administration of united States (FDA, in English) to be able to start the first phase of clinical testing with humans in the next few months.
“The test patients typically require at least a year, probably longer,” said Phallus.
“This particular situation is different to any other we’ve ever seen, so we do not know how long it will take the process of clinical development,” added the researcher.