While the Government continues with the campaign of vaccination against coronavirus (Covid-19) thanks to the doses of Sputnik V, who came from Russia, Sinopharm, from China and Oxford, from the United Kingdom, the National University of La Plata (UNLP) works together with a group of researchers in the development of an Argentine vaccine against the pandemic, based on the use of viral proteins to induce the generation of antibodies, spokesmen for the house of high studies reported today.
The vaccines that are currently known are based on two types of platforms: in the use of protein (proteins, protein fractions and dead complete virus), and others in the use of nucleic acids (viral vectors, RNA vaccines and DNA vaccines).
Guillermo Docena, director of the project, cited as an example the vaccines of Sinopharm (killed virus), Sinovac (viral proteins), Modern or Pfizer / BioNtech (RNA) and Sputnik V or AstraZeneca / Oxford (viral vectors). In the case of the vaccine developed by the UNLP, he explained that « initially it will be used in a systemic vaccine, but the development of mucosal vaccines is also being evaluated. »
He specified that in the project developed by the University “we will follow the strategy based on use of viral proteins, specifically fractions of protein S, encapsulated in nanoparticles ”.
The UNLP released an explanation of how its vaccine works
“Protein S is found in the coat of the virus and is the structure that the virus uses to be able to invade the target cells (cells of the nasal and pulmonary epithelium mainly). Protein S binds to the angiotensin 2 or ACE 2 receptor and enters the cell that will allow it to divide or multiply and then invade other cells ”, explained Docena.
He added that « we are currently studying different protocols for the administration of the vaccine in mice and, at the same time, the induced immune responses are being analyzed. »
“Basically what we are looking for, as in all vaccines for Covid-19, is induce the generation of protective immunity and specific antibodies to protein S to block the entry of SARS-CoV-2 to the target cells of the organism ”, he specified.
The scientist stressed that « the production of memory lymphocytes is also sought for protective immunity over time. »
Could there be an Argentine vaccine against the coronavirus in 2021?
The project it is still in a pre-clinical trial stage. The researchers anticipated that, once the experimental conditions are found to induce the best immune response and they are able to characterize the antibodies, they will advance in the phase of analysis of the efficacy of the vaccine in the experimental model.
« In this way, we will administer the vaccine to the animals and then challenge them with SARS-CoV-2 to assess the degree of protection conferred by vaccination, » Azzaroni explained.
The vaccine is still in its early stages
He also said that « We hope to be able to complete these stages during the course of 2021, and then evaluate the possibility and conditions of move to clinical phases, that is, to human study”.
Meanwhile, the head of the UNLP, Fernando Tauber stressed that « now have an own development of a vaccine in our laboratories it fills us with pride and ratifies our strategic policy of consolidating a sovereign university scientific system, capable of responding to the most urgent demands of Argentines ”.
Vaccine development at UNLP
The project is directed by Guillermo Docena, from the Institute for Immunological and Physiopathological Studies (IIFP); and Omar Azzaroni, from the Institute for Theoretical and Applied Physiochemical Research (INIFTA), and includes Sebastián Cavalitto, Javier Santos and Alejandro Aiello.
The initiative was presented this afternoon to the president of the UNLP, Fernando Tauber during a meeting held at the headquarters of the rector of the house of studies, in La Plata.
Dozen explained that the initiative « sIt urged previous collaborative work between INIFTA and IIFP since 2018, in which complementary capacities were added for the development and optimization of immunotherapies for inflammatory diseases and infectious diseases « .
« In these investigations, Omar Azzaroni’s group contributed a system based on nanoparticle technology, while our group contributed with different biological systems, pathologies and methods to evaluate the immunity generated by vaccines, « he explained.
« In the particular case of a vaccine for Covid-19 – he added – it was designed a vaccination strategy based on the use of nanoparticles with protein fractions from SARS-CoV-2 « .
How many vaccines were applied in Argentina
According to the Public Vaccination Monitor, the total number of inoculated totaled 1,323,859, of which 999,440 received one dose and 324,419 both, while the distributed vaccines accounted for 2,231,310.