Amid a frightening picture being painted by coronavirus concerns across the world, there’s a ray of hope emerging from the University of Hyderabad (UoH). In what could be a welcome breakthrough for the country and even the world, a faculty member of the biochemistry department has developed a possible vaccine against the dreaded coronavirus infection.
A statement issued by UoH states that Dr. Seema Mishra, faculty of the Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, has designed potential vaccine candidates, called T cell epitopes, against all the structural and non-structural proteins of novel coronavirus-2 (2019-nCoV) for experimental testing.
These vaccine candidates are small coronaviral peptides, molecules which are used by cells to trigger an immune response to destroy cells harbouring these viral peptides. Using powerful immunoinformatics approaches with computational softwares, Dr Seema Mishra has designed these potential epitopes in a way that can be used to vaccinate an entire population.
Usually, vaccine discovery takes 1.5 years, but the powerful computational tools helped in quickly enlisting these vaccine candidates in about 10 days.
A ranked list of potential candidate vaccines, based on how effectively they will be used by human cells to stop the virus, has been generated. With no matches present in human protein pool, these coronaviral epitopes pose no cross-reactivity to human cells and hence, the immune response will be against viral proteins and not human proteins. However, these results have to be investigated experimentally in order to provide conclusive evidence.
These results have been disseminated to the scientific community using ChemRxiv preprint platform for urgent experimental assays. Acknowledging that currently social distancing remains the best defence against nCov infections, the UoH stated that vaccination will take some time as further work is needed on the candidate epitopes.
“We are hopeful that our computational findings will provide a cost-and-time-effective framework for rapid experimental trials towards an effective nCoV vaccine,” the statement said.
The University of Hyderabad clarified that although the research has been disseminated, the scientific community, in vitro studies are required to be conducted for establishing the findings conclusively.