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UPMC, Pitt researchers advance COVID-19 vaccine

April 2, 2020 News Extra

PITTSBURGH — Though the approval process will likely take 12-18 months, UPMC researchers are optimistic about their recently developed vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a paper published Wednesday in EBioMedicine, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC describe a vaccine developed to fight against the novel coronavirus which uses a microneedle approach to inject antigens into a small area underneath the skin.

This approach generated a large number of disease-fighting antibodies when tested in mice and, while the actual amount of antigen contained in the vaccine is low, the researchers described it as “very potent.” Success in mice, however, does not guarantee a successful human vaccine.

Unlike other researchers building a potential future vaccine from the genetic information contained in the virus, the UPMC vaccine contains spike proteins, which the coronavirus uses to enter human cells. This will allow the immune system to identify the virus.

"It does not rely on the body to make the protein, like some of the experimental vaccines under development,” said Dr. Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

This is a breaking news article — check back later for more information or pick up Friday's Butler Eagle to read the full article.