Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Mining researchers seek to 'trick' coronavirus into creating vaccine

Researchers from Fiocruz Minas are part of a task force of 30 countries that have joined together in the search for vaccines against COVID-19, announced this week, C-TAP (The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool), of which Brazil is part. The joint effort of scientists aims to stop the advance of the pandemic, which has infected 6 million people and caused 371,000 deaths worldwide, which will only be possible with a vaccine. One of the most promising Brazilian studies, the research will develop a bivalent protection against coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) and influenza. The research uses a harmless type of influenza virus, capable of generating immune response against the new coronavirus. Used as a vaccine vector, the virus is modified inside the laboratory to transport part of the virus protein that terrifies the world. "We use the modified virus not to cause disease, but it induces an immune response in the body. Allows protection without causing disease. We have modified this virus that carries Sars-CoV-2 protein," said Alexandro Vieira Machado, an Oswaldo Cruz researcher and member of CTVacinas. The study is done in partnership with researchers from CTVacinas, a biotechnology research center at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). The study is based on a technique developed by the Viral Disease Immunology Group of Fiocruz Minas and will follow several steps: bench study and tests on infected cells, mouse tests and clinical tests in humans. The researchers are in the bench study. Scientific research has been carried out by a team of 12 scientists, which includes researchers who are Fiocruz servers, master's, doctoral and postdoctoral students. To create the substance that can save thousands of Brazilians, researchers use a ruse to trick the new coronavirus. "The flu virus is modified in such a way that it does not cause disease, but is capable of causing the vaccinated to produce antibodies and be protected against both COVID-19 and influenza. This is possible because we inserted a piece of the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2 into a portion of the genetic material of the influenza virus. It is a bivalent vaccine, capable of protecting from two diseases that infect the respiratory tract and are important causes of diseases in the elderly and people who have chronic disease", says Alexandre. Alexander recalls that science develops collectively. There are about 120 vaccines in the world and at least eight of them are already in the clinical trials phase. So that Brazilian researchers not only follow, but integrate global efforts in this search. "We are part of the hundreds of vaccines in development. Brazil is part of this network of 30 countries that seek to find a vaccine," says Alexandre, who has been researching vaccines for 17 years. He participated in the preparation of immunizations for toxoplasmosis, Chagas disease and pneumonia caused by pneumococci. He points out that research in Minas Gerais is in collaboration with studies from the University of São Paulo (USP), The Butantan Institute and the Heart Institute (Incor). "In other countries, vaccines are more advanced than ours. They're not phase two or three. But it is important to have, in the long and medium term, a vaccine with national technology that is available in the public network", he argues. Alexander's dedication to discovery takes place full-time. The researcher does not stop thinking about research even when he is at home. "Dedication is all the time. During the day, at night. In science, you never sleep. The information is generated all the time. All researchers do this," he says, who needs to follow extensive literature on the subject. The researcher reinforces the importance of funding for science so that viruses do not take humanity by surprise. "The history of mankind is the history of pandemics. With globalization, the diffusion of pathogens is facilitated", he argues. He reinforces the importance of global efforts and says that nothing guarantees that in the future we will not have to deal with another deadly virus. "It is important that scientists communicate. The exchange of information is essential, the more we know about the virus, the more conditions we will have to face it." And it makes a metaphor to explain the importance of investing in research: "the path of science is devious, I often say it is a dark labyrinth, every scientist lights up with a torch. The brighter it is, the faster you can get out of the maze. Scientists have to share the light of knowledge. If we don't have funding, the path gets dark," he says. According to Fiocruz, INCTV projects are funded by the Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation (Fapemig), the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC).
Uai - 03/06/2020 News Item translated automatically
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