Hopeful vaccine research: Universal vaccine protects against COVID-19 and four other coronaviruses and their variants, mice experiment shows

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Credit: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
Credit: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

To prevent a future coronavirus pandemic… UNC-Chapel Hill researchers designed a vaccine to provide protection from the current SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and a group of coronaviruses known to make the jump from animals to humans. 

Using an mRNA-based approach to create chimeric spike designs—combining regions of spike proteins from different coronaviruses—the team led by David Martinez, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Baric Lab at UNC, demonstrates protection against challenge from five coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.351, bat CoV (Bt-CoV) RsSHC014, and a heterologous Bt-CoV WIV-1) in vulnerable aged mice.

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The authors write that the multiplexed-chimeric spikes can prevent SARS-like zoonotic coronavirus infections with pandemic potential. 

“Our findings look bright for the future because they suggest we can design more universal pan coronavirus vaccines to proactively guard against viruses we know are at risk for emerging in humans,” Martinez said. “With this strategy, perhaps we can prevent a SARS-CoV-3.”

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