Scientists all over the world are working in order to give us more and more weapons against novel coronavirus. A new hope seems to come from the Pittsburgh University, School of Medicine, where a team of researchers announced to have found a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is causing the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was published a few days ago in the EBioMedicine journal belonging to The Lancet (Kim et al, 2020).
The researchers of Pittsburgh, led by MD Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at Pitt School of Medicine, tested, for now in mice, a vaccine given through a patch. Well, the vaccine produced antibodies against novel coronavirus at quantities thought enough to neutralize the virus. The characteristic of this vaccine is that it is not given through a single needle but through 400 microneedles made of sugar and a protein, called spike protein, that, once entered the body, induces the production of antibodies against coronavirus. The microneedles don’t cause pain and dissolve quickly. The production of the vaccine through this patch is scalable, this means that the production can grow without problems, and doesn’t need refrigeration during transport or storage. Scientists arrived fast at this result because they have been working on different types of coronavirus for years, due to the previous epidemic of SARS and MERS (responsible of the Middle East respiratory syndrome) of 2003 and 2014, respectively. In case of MERS the vaccine produced antibodies for a year and it is thought that it may work in the same way for novel coronavirus.
Normally, the testing phase would require more than a year. However, as highlighted by the same authors of the research, now we are in emergency and the governments are working to make the steps faster in order to arrive as early as possible to tests on humans.