University of Queensland to aid in Wuhan Coronavirus vaccine development
Due to concerns over the recent Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEP) has partnered with the University of Queensland to develop a new vaccine that could potentially be delivered in 6 months.
The University of Queensland (UQ) will leverage its innovative rapid response technology to develop the new vaccine that will be distributed to first responders in order to mitigate the international spread of the virus.
According to UQ’s Head of School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Professor Paul Young, the university’s novel technology will be able to rapidly generate new vaccines from the available knowledge of a virus’s genetic sequence information.
“The team hopes to develop a vaccine over the next six months, which may be used to help contain this outbreak,” he said.
The Wuhan Coronavirus, also scientifically known as nCov-2019, emerged in December last year. According to several sources, it is said that the virus originated from a seafood wet market in China’s Wuhan province.
Since then, there have been approximately 571 cases of the virus in Mainland China with a death toll of 17 and has spread to other countries in Asia such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam as well as the US.
On Thursday, the World Health Organisation has decided to not declare the sudden outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus as a global health emergency just yet. However, the emergency committee will continue to monitor and review their decision in the coming days.
According to UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology senior research fellow Dr Keith Chappell, the university’s own ‘molecular clamp’ technology which was patented by UniQuest will be the key to rapidly developing potential vaccines to address this outbreak.
“The University of Queensland’s molecular clamp technology provides stability to the viral protein that is the primary target for our immune defence,” he said.
“The technology has been designed as a platform approach to generate vaccines against a range of human and animal viruses and has shown promising results in the laboratory targeting viruses such as influenza, Ebola, Nipah and MERS coronavirus.”
UQ’s efforts will be joined by other CEPI-funded initiatives to accelerate the development of vaccines into the clinical trial stages and ultimately containing the virus from spreading even further.
“Given the rapid global spread of the nCoV-2019 virus the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease. Our intention with this work is to leverage our work on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platforms to speed up vaccine development. There are no guarantees of success, but we hope this work could provide a significant and important step forward in developing a vaccine for this disease,” said CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett.
“Our aspiration with these technologies is to bring a new pathogen from gene sequence to clinical testing in 16 weeks – which is significantly shorter than where we are now.”
“There is a lot that is still unknown regarding how easily the virus is able to be transmitted between humans,” said UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC.
“Working with CEPI, The University of Queensland is using its vaccine technology to respond to this global health challenge.”