A team of biohackers has just released a document to try and find an effective DIY vaccine against the new coronavirus. To start developing it, they ask for a loan of 25 thousand dollars

(photo: Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images)

Considerable steps are being taken in scientific laboratories all over the world to be able to develop, in record time, a vaccine that is effective in the fight against the new coronavirus . And now to add to this difficult challenge there is also a group of biohackers who has just released a document in the which proposes a plan to create, test and distribute a do-it-yourself vaccine against Covid – 19 . To begin with, say the biohackers, they serve between 10 and 25 thousand American dollars.

In recent weeks, therefore, students, scientists and professionals from the DIY biology community have decided to focus their efforts on studying vaccines against coronavirus and develop new testing methods. To talk about it is the magazine Reason who interviewed the biologist at the head of the project, who requested anonymity for fear of a severe sanction by the American Food and Drug Administration (Fda). “If anyone is trying to develop and distribute an unapproved drug, the FDA will severely punish him, and so it is”, tells the biohacker.

Some of the standard methods for developing a vaccine consist of combining a sample of a virus with a less infectious variant, or inactivating the virus with heat or chemicals, both methods that allow to propagate immunity in an organism. The biohacker team, on the other hand, is attempting to create a plasmid-based dna vaccine, which, he points out the biologist could save time and money. Once absorbed by the cells, the document reads, the plasmid will express a virus protein, triggering a response from part of the immune system, which will begin to generate antibodies . Although, the biologist points out, this approach may require a specific device to deliver an electrical impulse and thus help the vaccine to penetrate the cell membranes.

Although to date there are no vaccines available on the market created in this way, the pharmaceutical company Inovio is moving in this direction, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already shown interest in finance projects that use this methodology. A similar approach, says the biohacker, has already successfully produced antibodies to Mers , but it has not been possible test it on a large scale because the lack of outbreaks since it was developed.

From what is learned from the document, therefore, the team will first of all try to design and synthesize the plasmid , then carry out preliminary tests to ensure that the vaccine is safe and send it to the laboratories concerned. To conduct a clinical trial, the biologist and his team hope to rely on a network of “community lab” of biohackers who can help them in this experimentation, even if they are aware that most people will not be willing to undergo a vaccination not approved by the FDA. “It may seem a little crazy, but at some point not to do something that seems to be safe in the face of a disease that could kill us and our loved ones …” , comments the biohacker. Although you think the probability of success of your project is less than 50% , the biologist remains firmly convinced that it is better to try rather than do nothing in front of a pandemic.

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