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Another Potential Vaccine Surfaces in Pittsburgh

It shows promise in mice, and researchers are seeking permission to start clinical trials
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2020 2:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – The world is thought to be a year or so away from a coronavirus vaccine, but another potential candidate has entered the race. This one is out of the University of Pittsburgh, where researchers report that their vaccine created antibodies in mice, reports TribLive. The researchers are now appealing to the FDA to fast-track clinical trials in humans, and they hope those trials can begin in the next month or two. "We'd like to get this into patients as soon as possible," says the university's Andrea Gambotto, per USA Today. He is a co-author of the new paper in the journal EBioMedicine, published by the Lancet. The paper is the first peer-reviewed one describing a new vaccine, and the Pittsburgh researchers have additional clout because they previously researched vaccines for the SARS and MERS coronavirus outbreaks.

In the case of their SARS vaccine, funding dried up just before it went to clinical trial because the outbreak was brought under control in July 2003. "SARS CoV-2 is teaching us that it is important to react and [follow] all the way through," says Gambotto. "Yes, it was a mistake not to test the vaccine back then." As USA Today notes, it's possible a vaccine for one coronavirus could provide at least partial protection against others. Newsweek notes that the Pittsburgh vaccine is delivered not through a traditional shot but through what looks like a small patch, about the size of a fingertip, with 400 tiny needles made of dissolvable sugar and pieces of the virus's "spike protein," which is seen as vital in creating immunity. They say it would feel like a piece of Velcro on the skin. (The first clinical trial is underway in Washington state.)

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