Coronavirus. What should be the second generation vaccine: the development of American biologists

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To maximize protection against coronavirus, the next generation of vaccines should target not only the S-protein of viral particles, but also against the N-protein in which the genetic code of the pathogen is “packed”. The authors of two candidate vaccines write about this in the preprints of preclinical studies.


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Microbiologists from two universities in Chicago have specified that most of the current vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are “sharpened” for one main antigen – S-protein (different parts of it). While such vaccines are effective in preventing severe covid disease and death, they “do not always provide sterilizing immunity”: the kind where the infection is destroyed by the body before it enters the cells.

This is especially true now, when, as a result of mutations, various variants of the coronavirus have appeared and appear, partially escaping the immunity of those who have recovered from the “usual” virus or after the current vaccines.

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See also: In the United States are now vaccinated against coronavirus and adolescents

They conducted studies in mice to see if the vaccines could be improved by including N-protein. Different rodents were vaccinated with a) adenovirus-based vaccine, which encoded only S-protein, b) N-protein antigen, and c) their combination.

After some time, the animals were infected with the coronavirus through the nose and then the viral load in the lungs and brain was determined. The S-protein vaccine was excellent in protecting the lungs, but not the brain; such a vaccine provided brain protection only when combined with a nucleocapsid vaccine. Coronavirus brain damage leads to loss of smell / taste and other problems.

“These data suggest that nucleocapsid-specific immunity is important for protecting the brain from SARS CoV-2, which requires the inclusion of N-protein in next-generation vaccines,” summed up in Chicago.

Read also: The effectiveness of the Novavax vaccine against the South African strain of coronavirus – 51%

Scientists at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with a laboratory in Galveston, Texas, have developed a candidate N-protein-coding HAd5 vaccine and have also tested its effects in Syrian hamsters and mice. By vaccinating them and then infecting them with the “corona”, the authors noted the “rapid response of N-specific T cells in the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract.”

“The study confirms the rationale for including additional viral antigens in vaccines, even if they are not the target of neutralizing antibodies,” they said.

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