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Friday, July 24, 2020

Researchers at the University of Texas designed an enhanced version of Spike Protein to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Researchers at the University of Texas designed an enhanced version of Spike Protein to develop COVID-19 vaccine


The Coronavirus pandemic has been lingering over our heads for a really long time but we’re finally starting to see some positivity. The Coronavirus is now less intensive and the mortality rate is down as well. Millions have been affected due to the Coronavirus pandemic but researchers are confident that they’ll find a vaccine for COVID-19 very soon.

Some researchers in China are hopeful that they will able to develop a vaccine for Coronavirus by the end of this year. Similarly, an already developed vaccine from researchers at Oxford University is showing some promising results and getting a lot of praise. A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin is also making an effort to find a suitable vaccine for the novel Coronavirus.

A team of scientific researchers at the University of Texas has successfully engineered a key protein from the coronavirus. This modified protein will enable scientists from all over the world to a much faster and more stable production of vaccines.

The researchers explained the whole process in their study and concluded,

‘’ The COVID-19 pandemic has led to accelerated efforts to develop therapeutics and vaccines. A key target of these efforts is the spike (S) protein, which is metastable and difficult to produce recombinantly. Here, we characterized 100 structure-guided spike designs and identified 26 individual substitutions that increased protein yields and stability.

Testing combinations of beneficial substitutions resulted in the identification of HexaPro, a variant with six beneficial proline substitutions exhibiting ~10-fold higher expression than its parental construct and the ability to withstand heat stress, storage at room temperature, and three freeze-thaw cycles. A 3.2 Å-resolution cryo-EM structure of HexaPro confirmed that it retains the prefusion spike conformation. High-yield production of a stabilized prefusion spike protein will accelerate the development of vaccines and serological diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2.’’ Source - Science Mag

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And in Layman’s term, Most of the Coronavirus vaccines train the human immune system to recognize the main protein found in the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as Spike protein. This protein helps the body in fighting against the infection. Scientists redesigned this protein to be 10 times stronger when expressed in cells. This will boost the immune system is a way to quickly and efficiently fight the infection.

Depending on the type of vaccine, this improved version of the protein could reduce the size of each dose or speed up vaccine production. Either way, it could mean more patients have access to vaccines faster."

Jason McLellan, Study Senior Author, and Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin. Source - News Medical

An earlier version of the vaccine was also tested but the new one showed much better results and is also more stable than the earlier versions. This research will be shared with scientists from all over the world to speed up the process of manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccine. 


Vaccine research centers around the world will use this technology to test and further develop COVID-19 vaccines but it is going to take some time. Many believe that by the end of 2020, we’ll finally have a working vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

We don’t know when the vaccine will be ready but there are many vaccines that are used in many clinical trials around the world and we’re hopeful that one of them is the key to stopping the coronavirus from spreading.

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