Corona: Tests for a universal vaccine in hamsters give hope

From alpha to omicron, from BA.1 to BA.5: new corona variants and sub-variants are constantly emerging and thus misleading one of the most important measures to contain the pandemic: vaccines lose their efficacy and have to be adapted once and again. .

Therefore, the search for a universal vaccine that offers long-term protection has been underway for a long time. Now, researchers at the Maryland/USA National Institutes of Health. The US (NIH) believe they have found a new vaccine design that works equally well with current and future forms of SARS-CoV-2. The upside: The vaccine might also protect against other diseases.

The NIH team reported in the journal “Host cell and microbe“ about the preliminary results of their study.

Binding to the spinal helix of the virus.

The key to the potential NIH vaccine design is that part of the virus called the “spinal helix.” It is a coiled structure within the spike protein that helps the virus attach to cells and infect them. Many proven vaccines target the spike protein. However, none of them specifically target the spinal helix. And yet there are good reasons to focus on this part of the pathogen. While many regions of the spike protein tend to change significantly when the virus mutates, the spine helix does not.

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