UK Scientists Make ‘promising’ Advance Towards Developing Universal COVID Vaccine: Report

To overcome COVID-19 and the common cold, scientists in the United Kingdom have made “promising” advances in creating a universal coronavirus vaccine

To overcome COVID-19 and the common cold, scientists in the United Kingdom have made “promising” advances in creating a ‘universal’ coronavirus vaccine. According to The Guardian report, a particular area of the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, is a suitable target for a pan-coronavirus vaccine that might provide defence against all COVID-19 variants and common colds. This latest discovery of the area has been done by scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London, UK.

Researchers described that since the coronavirus family has several important differences, constantly mutates, and usually induces insufficient protection against reinfection, developing a vaccine that offers protection against a variety of coronaviruses is extremely difficult. And due to this, people are susceptible to catching the same cold more than once, as well as contracting distinct Sars-CoV-2 strains more than once, The Guardian reported.

According to researchers, a universal coronavirus vaccine would need to produce antibodies that can recognise and neutralise a variety of coronaviruses, preventing the virus from multiplying and entering host cells.

Study on universal coronavirus vaccine

In the latest research, scientists looked at whether antibodies that target the “S2 subunit” of the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 also neutralise other coronaviruses. The scientists discovered that after administering the Sars-CoV-2 S2 vaccine to the mice, the animals developed antibodies that could neutralise a variety of different animal and human coronaviruses. Further, they contained two coronaviruses from bats, the common cold coronavirus HCoV-OC43, the original Sars-CoV-2 strain, and the D614G mutant that predominated in the first wave, Alpha, Beta, and Delta.

Notably, the results are presented in the Science Translational Medicine publication.

In addition to this, the S2 region of the spike protein has previously gone unnoticed as a possible foundation for immunisation, according to researchers.

Kevin Ng, from the Francis Crick Institute and co-first author of the research, stated, “The S2 area of the spike protein is a promising target for a potential pan-coronavirus vaccine because this area is much more similar across different coronaviruses than the S1 area”, The Guardian reported. He added, “It is less subject to mutations, and so a vaccine targeted at this area should be more robust.”

“The expectation for a vaccine that targets the S2 area is that it could offer some protection against all current, as well as future, coronaviruses,” as per George Kassiotis, corresponding author and primary group leader at the Francis Crick Institute.

Kassiotis also noted that this contrasts with vaccinations that target the more variable S1 region, which, although effective against the matched version they are targeted against, are less able to target other variations or a wide variety of coronaviruses.

According to The Guardian report, the exploration of the possibility of a pan-coronavirus that specifically targets the S2 region of the spike protein and how it may be combined with already-approved vaccines will continue.

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