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Iowa State researcher developing COVID-19 vaccine that adapts to new mutations

A researcher from Iowa State University is developing a way for vaccines to adapt to new mutations of the coronavirus.

Michael Cho is studying how to create vaccines that target the receptor-binding domain (RBD), the part of the virus’ spike protein that attaches to cells and allows for infection to happen.

Cho has developed a vaccine that uses a small manufactured portion of the virus’ spike protein to induce the body to generate antibodies that target the RBD. The vaccine has shown promise in tests on mice, Cho says, with one dose inducing higher antibody concentrations than produced by the three current vaccines available in the U.S. — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

According to Cho, other vaccines that use virus particles may eventually face a problem if the recipient’s body builds an immune response strong enough to prevent the vaccine’s virus particles from entering cells. In that were to occur, it may not be possible to give those vaccines to someone multiple times in the future, if new variants require it.

Cho’s vaccine could be injected to offer protection against each new variant without that immune response risk, since it uses a protein rather than virus particles to induce a response.

The vaccine is already available for licensing from the Iowa State University Research Foundation. Cho also has his own vaccine startup, NeoVaxSyn, but hopes to partner with larger pharmaceutical companies that can produce enough of the vaccine’s protein in order to conduct human clinical trials.

“It’s going to take a long time before everyone has immunity to prevent new infections,” Cho says. “It will be good if more people get vaccinated as quickly as possible. The longer this drags on, the less effective the current vaccines will be and the longer that this pandemic will last.” Source: Ames Tribune

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