In the field of prevention, the work of Mexican molecular medicine researcher Laura Palomares stands out. And today, her team is developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, based on the work they have been doing in recent years against dengue and zika.
“I am convinced that the only way that we are going to be able to respond to this type of pandemic in a timely manner is going to be using platforms. I am referring to a vaccine, for which we already have the entire production, development, stability train, etc. “, said the chemical engineer from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), that holds a master’s in Biotechnology, and a doctorate in science from UNAM.
“Many times we think that the laboratory is going to discover a vaccine to “cure” the patient, and it is not like that. This type of vaccine requires a lot of time and a lot of effort in developing the processes for production and characterization, before reaching the final patient,” Laura Palomares added.
With this idea in mind, the also researcher at the Institute of Biotechnology (IBt) of UNAM has promoted the development of one of these technological and methodological platforms focused on the aforementioned Zika and Dengue viruses, conditions particularly significant for Mexico due to their high numbers of contagion, every year in different parts of the country.
The result has been a vaccine created with recombinant DNA technology, which Palomares calls “a chimera.”
“Let’s put it in simple words, for people to understand: If we take away from the platform the zika and dengue viruses, and we put the coronavirus there, that way we can get a vaccine against SARS-Cov-2,” says the member of the University Commission for Attention of the Coronavirus Emergency.
“What took us two years in genetic engineering, adding on and taking off proteins, understanding how these capsids were going to be assembled, characterizing them, etc., all that we had already done. So now, we are replacing that with SARS-CoV-2, and that is precisely why we have advanced so much right now “, Palomares continued.
“The approach to the development of vaccines through platforms has also been the route taken by two vaccines against Covid-19 in the world that are currently under clinical evaluation: that of the North American company Moderna and that of the Chinese company CanSino Biologics”, stated the expert.
The coronavirus vaccine is in the testing phase in animal models, a process in which the Zika and dengue vaccine has already been evaluated. If everything progresses positively, Palomares estimates that the first human tests could be carried out in three years.
In the case of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that she and her team are currently developing, they plan to collaborate wth the Mexican company Liomont, which has a manufacturing plant that would allow the production of this vaccine, this way Mexico does not have to depend on transnational companies.
“So this pandemic is obviously terrible for us, because it is affecting the health of a large part of the population, but also a great opportunity to raise awareness,” the researcher concluded.The Yucatan Times
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