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The latest developments of therapeutics and vaccines against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).   

1.Novel broad-spectrum antibiotic compound effective against novel coronavirus  

A team of researchers has identified new compounds that consist of characteristics against COVID-19 and any other coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

They are working towards a broad-spectrum antiviral that will be used to fight against all types of coronavirus. According to them, enteroviruses like those that caused foot and mouth diseases and cold have a similar protein called “3C Protease” for viral replication.

They will be using X-ray crystallography that will help them examine the structures of these mentioned “Proteases”.

The researchers designed a series of a-ketoamide compounds that will bind and block the active enzymes.   

Through their studies, they were able to find one versatile inhibitor of protease activity that showed that it was able to block the active enzymes from functioning.

They will soon commence testing this compound in small animal models that have MERS-CoV.   

2. Novavax joins in developing a vaccine against COVID-19  

Novavax Inc. who has a history of contributing to developing vaccines for other epidemics, recently announced that they have several COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are in the midst of pre-clinical animal trials, hoping that they will be able to identify an optimal candidate. They also hope to start human testing by the end of June 2020.   

The company stated that they have used their recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform in generating antigens extracted from the coronavirus spike protein.

They expect to combine these antigens with its Matrix-M adjuvant in its final development stage of the vaccine.

Matrix-M adjuvant is saponin-based and has shown a strong effect in stimulating the entry of antigen-presenting cells into the injection site and enhancing antigen presentation in local lymph nodes that boosts immune responses.   

Novavax, Inc. is a clinical-stage vaccine company headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland with additional facilities in Rockville, Maryland and Uppsala, Sweden.  

3. Scientists suggest T-cell epitopes that could be targeted by coronavirus vaccines  

Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have studied the B-cell and T-cell spike and nucleocapsid protein epitopes that emerges in response against SARS-CoV-1, it causes the disease to find biomarkers that could be used in vaccines that trigger an immune response to SARS-CoV-2.   

According to the researchers, no mutations were recorded in the SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that were highlighted, immune targeting of these can offer protection against COVID-19.   

Professor McKay (Co-leader of the study), highlighted “Despite similarities between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, there is genetic variation between the two and it is not obvious if epitopes that elicit an immune response against SARS-CoV will be effective against SARS-CoV-2. We found that only roughly 20 percent of the SARS-CoV epitopes map identically to SARS-CoV-2 and believe these are promising candidates.”  

Dr. Quadeer (Co-leader of the study), explained: “For the identified T-cell epitopes, we also performed a population coverage analysis and determined a set of epitopes that are estimated to provide broad coverage globally as well as in China.” 

(Source: Drug Target Review, 2020)