A new type of vaccine under development by the US Army will protect not only against the virus and variants responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also against other respiratory viruses, researchers hope.
Their “spike ferritin nanoparticle” (SpFN) vaccine employs the common protein ferritin in the form of a soccer-ball-shaped “platform.”
The platform has 24 “faces” onto which are attached replicas of the spike proteins used by some viruses, including coronaviruses, to break into cells. Delivering spike replicas via vaccines teaches the immune system to recognize and attack them in case of infection. Results from the completed first trial of the vaccine in humans are being analyzed.
In lab experiments, antibodies induced by the vaccine protected mice from what would otherwise have been lethal doses of the virus that causes COVID-19 and also of the virus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak, researchers said on Tuesday in Cell Reports.
“Presenting multiple copies of a spike in an ordered fashion may be the key to inducing a potent and broad immune response,” said study leader Gordon Joyce of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The vaccine would remain stable at a wide range of temperatures, he said, making it especially useful in areas without specialized storage equipment.