Neil king, a researcher at the University of Washington, said at the gekewe summit in Seattle on Tuesday that we are now in the “Digital Age” of vaccine research and development.
Kim talked about how to prevent the next pandemic. He also discussed the development of COVID-19, flu and other viral vaccines according to the Research Institute of protein design, University of Washington (he is assistant professor of the Institute).
“Ultimately, I think computational protein design, combined with old and new technologies, will enable us to make safer and more effective vaccines against very difficult goals in history,” said Kim, co-founder of icosavax, a vaccine company listed this summer. Icosavax is conducting a clinical trial of COVID-19 -19 vaccine based on IPD, as well as a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus that causes pneumonia.
Kim’s laboratory uses computational methods to predict protein behavior and fold into specific shapes.
Icosavax uses technology authorized by the Institute of protein design at the University of Washington to manufacture virus like particles. (icosavax photo)
“This allows us to assemble scaffolds of different sizes, shapes and symmetries and test which works best,” he said. After the design, the researchers designed the protein scaffold, and the virus protein adhered to the scaffold. This is the basis of their experimental vaccine.
“We found that when we attached viral and bacterial proteins to these scaffolds, as we assumed, they would instruct the immune system to produce higher levels of protective antibodies, resulting in more effective vaccines,” king said.
The new candidate COVID-19 -19 vaccine has 60 spike proteins embedded on the spherical stent. The stable shelf of experimental vaccines is the key to flexible global distribution. In addition to phase 1 and phase 2 of Icosavax, drug giant GlaxoSmithKline Co and South Korea SK bioscience company are conducting a similar 3 phase trial of COVID-19 -19 vaccine.
The experimental influenza vaccine contains the proteins of four influenza viruses on one particle. King said it was designed to stimulate an unusually strong immune response so that “it can prevent not only this year’s influenza virus, but also next year and a few years later.”. Developing such a “universal” influenza vaccine has always been the goal of vaccine developers and may replace the annual influenza vaccine production cycle. The vaccine is currently undergoing clinical trials at the National Institutes of health.
King talked about how far vaccine development has gone. For most of the 20th century, vaccines were made of intact viruses or bacteria. These viruses or bacteria are usually highly weakened microorganisms that do not cause infection, but can prevent disease. In the 1980s, researchers began to make vaccines from single viral or bacterial proteins or some proteins, such as improved vaccines for pertussis and hepatitis C.
He said that today, the RNA based COVID-19 -19 vaccine from Modena and Pfizer represents the era of “digitalization”. These vaccines are constructed from RNA, which disappears from the body shortly after instructing the manufacture of a protein similar to the protein in the virus, triggering an immune response. This design is conducive to flexible development. Only two months after the announcement of the COVID-19 19 series in early January, the first clinical trial of the RNA vaccine took place last year.
In the Q & a phase after the power speech, King explored the possibility of developing a broad vaccine against a variety of coronavirus strains.
One way is to use proteins extracted from a variety of strains to study scaffolds, just as king’s team is studying influenza. Research by King’s laboratory and other scientists is currently laying an early foundation for a “universal” coronavirus vaccine.
“Ideally, you can prevent the next pandemic, not deal with it,” king said.