By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
In the context of promising clinical trial results of new vaccines for COVID-19, researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin have come up with an innovation that may speed up the production of vaccines across the world.
Most vaccines rely on training the immune system to recognize the key element that makes SARS-CoV-2 so harmful to humans: the spike protein. UT scientists successfully recreated a version of this protein and dubbed it HexaPro.
HexaPro is more stable and resistant to heat, making it easier to transport and store, as well as freeze and thaw several times. Furthermore, when expressed in cells, HexaPro produces almost 10 times more protein than other synthetic spike proteins in use in current vaccines.
“Depending on the type of vaccine, this improved version of the protein could reduce the size of each dose or speed up vaccine production,” says Jason McLellan, senior author of the paper that details the findings. “Either way, it could mean more patients have access to vaccines faster.”