The novel coronavirus has swept through nation after nation because natural immunity to the disease is non-existent.
Researchers as the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe they’ve found the solution to that problem, claiming in a study published on Thursday that they’ve developed a vaccine that could be ready for human trials within months.
Anti-viral treatments have proven to be dicey and rife with problems. A vaccine is the only true way to protect the public from the virus, and as such, pharmaceutical researchers are racing to be the first to get that vaccine to market.
The scientists at the University of Pittsburg said in their study that their past research on similar coronaviruses, SARS and MERS, allowed them to develop a vaccine that has been shown to be successful when tested on mice.
“These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus,” said lead researcher Andrea Gambotto, M.D. “We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”
The group disclosed that their studies on mice show that the vaccine induces the production of enough antibodies to protect the mice within two weeks, though the mice have not been studied over a long period of time to determine the long-term effects.
The New York Post reports that the researchers have requested an investigational new drug approval from the FDA in order to begin human clinical trials within the next few months.
The group believes that their vaccine, reportedly similar in composition to a flu vaccine, is “highly scalable,” one of the most important criteria for pursuing a vaccine in the midst of a pandemic.
Not the only one
The group of researchers from the University of Pittsburg is not the only one that has come up with what is thought to be a promising vaccine for the deadly virus.
White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci disclosed on Wednesday that biotech company Moderna is working with the FDA to fast-track human trials on a vaccine.
Fauci expressed optimism about the vaccine, saying that “It’ll take a few months to get the data to where we’ll feel confident to go to the phase two, and then a few months from now we’ll be in phase two and I think we’re right on target for the year to year and a half.”
Though it seems like a long time to wait for a solution, 18 months is almost unheard of for vaccine approval. Many vaccines take decades of research and trials before ever reaching the market, but rigid FDA rules that typically stand in the way of quick action have been modified in the face of tens of thousands of deaths worldwide.