A new SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, developed by giving a key protein's gene a ride into the body while encased in a measles vaccine, has been shown to produce a strong immune response and prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and lung disease in multiple animal studies. Scientists attribute the vaccine candidate's effectiveness to strategic production of the antigen to stimulate immunity: using a specific snippet of the coronavirus spike protein gene, and inserting it into a sweet spot in the measles vaccine genome to boost activation, or expression, of the gene that makes the protein (image). Even with several vaccines already on the market, researchers say this candidate may have advantages worth exploring--especially related to the measles vaccine's established safety, durability, and high-efficacy profile. "The measles vaccine has been used in children since the 1960s, and has a long history of safety for children and adults," said Jianrong Li, DVM, PhD, senior author of the study and a Professor of Virology in The Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Biosciences. "We also know the measles vaccine can produce long-term protection. The hope is that with the antigen inside, it can produce long-term protection against SARS-CoV-2. That would be a big advantage, because right now we don't know how long protection will last with any vaccine platforms." The research was published online on March 9, 2021 in PNAS. The open-access article is titled “A Safe and Highly Efficacious Measles Virus-Based Vaccine Expressing SARS-Cov-2 Stabilized Prefusion Spike” (https://www.pnas.org/content/118/12/e2026153118). The Ohio State Innovation Foundation has exclusively licensed the technology to Biological E. Limited (BE), a Hyderabad, India-based vaccine & pharmaceutical company.
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