Fauci wants to make a vaccine before the next pandemic occurs

In a sense, the world was fortunate with the new coronavirus. Coincidentally, scientists spent years studying the coronavirus and as soon as the virus sequence was released, they developed exactly the tools needed to make the Covid vaccine.

But what if the next pandemic is due to the virus that causes Lassa fever, the Sudanese strain of Ebola, or the Nipah virus?

Dr. Anthony S. Forch, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is promoting an ambitious and costly plan to prepare for such a nightmare scenario. He said it would cost “billions of dollars” a year, take five years for the first harvest of the results, and hire a huge executive of scientists.

The idea is to create a “prototype” vaccine to protect against viruses from about 20 families that can cause a new pandemic. Using research tools that have proven successful in Covid-19, researchers uncover the molecular structure of each virus, where the antibodies must attack, and the body makes exactly those antibodies. Learn how to get them to.

“If we get the money we believe we’ll do, it will probably start in 2022,” said Dr. Forch, “in discussions with the White House and others.” He added that he is promoting the idea.

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, also called the project “convincing” and thought it was likely to be allocated the necessary funding.

“When we start thinking about ending the success of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not return to complacency,” said Dr. Collins.

Much of the financial support comes from Dr. Fauci’s laboratory, but projects in this range require additional funding that must be allocated by Congress. This year’s budget for the Institute for Infectious Diseases is just over $ 6 billion. Dr. Fauci did not specify how much additional money would be needed.

The logic goes on when the surveillance network detects a new virus spilling from an animal into a person. Scientists can stop it by immunizing people at the time of outbreak by producing a prototype vaccine quickly. And if the virus spreads before the world understands what’s going on, prototype vaccines have the potential to become more widespread.

“The name of the game is to try to limit spillover to outbreaks,” said Dr. Dennis Burton, a vaccine researcher and chairman of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the Scripps Research Institute.

The prototype vaccine project is the brainchild of Dr. Bernie Graham, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center. He presented his ideas at a private meeting of the director of the institute in February 2017.

Each year, the virus could turn into a pandemic, Dr. Graham said: H1N1 swine flu in 2009, Chikungunya fever in 2012, MERS in 2013, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016. .. Their only success was partial, and the Ebola vaccine helped control the epidemic, but had no effect on other Ebola strains. Other epidemics diminished before vaccines were made or tested.

“We were tired,” said Dr. Graham.

But researchers have new tools that have been developed over the last decade, which can make a big difference. They allowed scientists to observe the molecular structure of the virus, isolate antibodies that block the virus, and find out where they bind. As a result, it has become possible to carry out “structure-based design” of new vaccines that more accurately target pathogens.

Dr. Forch was inspired when he heard Dr. Graham’s pitch in 2017. “It impressed me and others on the executive committee as really viable,” said Dr. Fauci.

Dr. Graham Review paper I will give an overview of the 2018 Nature Immunology proposal. But without the urgency of a threatening pandemic, that was his only idea.

But now, many think it’s time.

The Institute for Allergic Infectious Diseases has produced a spreadsheet showing that each of the 20 viral families is known for the anatomical structure and vulnerabilities of each pathogen, said the director of the Institute’s Vaccine Research Center. Dr. John Mascola said.

“Each virus family has different knowledge and vaccine development status,” said Dr. Mascola. For example, vaccines for Lassa fever and Nipah virus are in the early stages. Chikungunya and Zika vaccines are even more advanced.

The work to fill the gap in vaccine development is done with research grants to academic researchers. “There is a lot of enthusiasm” among academic researchers, said Dr. Burton Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. The proposal is not well known to the general public, but Dr. Forch said he discussed it in a meeting with a scientific audience.

The program will also establish a partnership agreement with pharmaceutical companies to expedite the production of prototype vaccines, Dr. Forch said.

That’s what happened with the Covid-19 shot. The SARS and MERS epidemics have led scientists to work on the coronavirus vaccine. As a result, it was discovered that the coronavirus uses the spike protein to infect cells, but spikes easily change shape and must be held in one position to be useful as a vaccine. Researchers have found that it can be done with small molecular changes in peaplomers.

A few days after the new coronavirus sequence was announced, scientists designed a vaccine to fight it.

That’s what prepares for a pandemic, Dr. Forch said. He wants to get 10 prototype vaccines out of 20 virus families in the first 5 years of work.

“It will require a fair amount of money,” admitted Dr. Forch. “But after what we have experienced, it’s not out of the question.”

Fauci wants to make a vaccine before the next pandemic occurs

Source link Fauci wants to make a vaccine before the next pandemic occurs

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