UC Irvine scientists are working on a COVID-19 vaccine that would attack all strains – NBC Los Angeles
UC Irvine scientists are working on developing a vaccine that will attack all COVID-19 strains, as well as a possible breakthrough that would solve many of the problems related to the drug’s distribution, a UCI professor on the project said Thursday.
Lbachir BenMohamed, a professor at the UCI School of Medicine, said his team was developing a vaccine that could work against all strains of the SARS-CoV-2 family.
The UCI vaccine would be a “backup” of the vaccines currently in use and is expected to be approved shortly, BenMohamed said.
“Our vaccine doesn’t just focus on spike protein” to trigger an immune response like Pfizer and Moderna did, the professor said. There are two dozen other proteins that can trigger an immune response, he said.
“Right now we’re doing clinical trials,” he said as the scientists prepare to monitor how the vaccines work in laboratory mice. This work is expected to be carried out this summer.
The scientists will generate several vaccines and choose the most effective one for the coronavirus, BenMohamed said.
“Our vaccine was designed to protect against the common cold coronavirus … and to protect against the viruses that aren’t here yet,” said BenMohamed.
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BenMohamed noted that the study of the South African tribe wasn’t peer-reviewed, “so we don’t really know” how the vaccines would affect it. The Japanese variant is a mix of British and South African varieties, he said.
“The good news is that the vaccine against the British variant is effective,” said BenMohamed.
The problems with distributing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines described by the Biden government Thursday could be resolved by another project the scientists are working on, BenMohamed said.
The scientists are working to see if a vaccine can be delivered using patch technology, which is similar to how the nicotine patch works for smokers trying to give up the habit, he said.
“Next week we will know if this delivery system induces the immune system,” said BenMohamed.
If so, “we could send the doses of vaccines … you put them on your arm and then you get vaccinated,” said BenMohamed. “We’ll send you the second dose three weeks later.”
This technology will be particularly helpful in distributing vaccines in underdeveloped countries or remote regions of the world, BenMohamed said.
A vaccine costs six times more to distribute than the drug to manufacture, he said.
BenMohamed said he believes the Biden government will be able to meet its goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days.
“Fortunately we have a lot of infrastructure,” he said. “This is the first time we try to vaccinate 100 million in 100 days. But they have no doubt that we will overcome all these problems and give all these vaccines to everyone. “
But if UCI’s patch project works, “it will solve a lot of problems,” he said.