Researchers from Singapore-based Esco Aster are currently working with the American firm Vivaldi Biosciences to develop a vaccine that will not only be able to treat coronavirus, but also can be modified within three weeks to tackle any possible mutations of the virus, The Straits Times reported.
The upcoming vaccine, currently dubbed Esco Aster DeltaCov, is created through the merger of “backbone” proteins from the flu virus and antigens from the SARS-CoV-2 in a bid to stimulate an immune response, the outlet noted. Trials on humans are expected to begin in six months.
“Viruses actually want to lie low and not be recognised - they want to evade the immune system and not cause any response,” Lin Xiangliang, Esco Aster's chief executive, explained to The Straits Times. “By having this backbone... we can awaken the immune system to realise there's a novel virus and create the antibodies needed to kill it.”
Esco Aster reportedly contacted Vivaldi Biosciences in January 2020, after the first coronavirus cases were recorded in Singapore. The company started searching for the “correct antigen sequence” in a bid to insert it into the backbone, while Vivaldi Biosciences, from its part, genetically reverse-engineered the virus in order to connect its antigen with the protein backbone. According to scientists, these processes would then be used if SARS-CoV-2 mutates and a new vaccine had to be developed. In this case, the new drug for the “mutated” virus would thus emerge as early as in two weeks, as the new virus strain will simply be “switched” with the current antigens.
The upcoming vaccine will be produced in the form of a nasal spray, according to the company, and testing on animals is expected to begin in two or three months. Once the inserted coronavirus antigen is detected by the organisms’ immune system, the body will learn to detect the virus and produce antibodies to fight it in the future.
Another US-based biopharmaceutical company, Sorrento Therapeutics, had earlier said that so-called “antibody cocktail therapy” could soon be applied to protect American citizens returning to the workplace amid the absence of a currently approved vaccine against coronavirus, as scientists from all over the world, including Russia, China and the UK, are working on the development of an anti-COVID-19 vaccine, with testing expected to begin as early as this June.