Right now, three leading projects across three continents are catching most of the limelight. Chinese company CanSino Biologics was the first to push its adenovirus-based recombinant vaccine into phase 2 testing. Massachusetts biotech Moderna recently unveiled preliminary phase 1 data for its mRNA shot. And another adenovirus-vectored vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca just nabbed $1.2 billion in funding from the U.S. government.
Having a vaccine ready as early as possible is crucial. “The first country to the finish line will be first to restore its economy and global influence,” former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in an article in The Wall Street Journal. However, despite the rosy picture companies—and countries—are painting, there are still hurdles ahead before any one meets the timeline of having a useable vaccine within a year and a half.Vaccine development is a long process. After evaluation in test tubes and animals, a vaccine is tested in humans in a phase 1 trial, which is a small study that assesses safety and immune response to gauge its potential.
Israeli Scientists Say Gaucher’s Disease Drugs May Help Treat Covid-19
A study performed by IIBR, run by the country’s Defense Ministry, shows derivatives of Cerdelga and venglustat can act as an antiviral therapeutic against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Cerdelga is a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug, while venglustat is currently undergoing Phase III clinical trials. Both potential Covid-19 drugs are specific inhibitors of GlucosylCeramide synthase (GCS).According to the Israeli study findings, published in bioRxiv preprint website, the combination of these drugs led to a significant decrease in the replication capacity of SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 Vaccine Developers Search for Antibodies That Do No Harm
The coronavirus pandemic has provided the world with a quick study in the intricacies of immunology. “Herd immunity” and “serological tests” have become household terms. Front and center among these concepts are antibodies. These immune proteins typically emerge during the second or third week after an infection, glomming onto invaders and preventing them from sneaking into human cells. If antibodies targeting a particular virus turn up in a blood sample, their appearance provides confirmation of an immune response that may protect against reinfection.
Eliciting the right antibodies to disarm SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the current pandemic, is the goal of dozens of vaccine developers, several of which have already launched human trials in record time. But public health officials and scientists caution against moving too quickly. In rare instances, these immune defenders can exacerbate disease rather than guard against it.