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Scientists develop effective intranasal mumps-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate: Results in animals suggest potential to enhance MMR childhood vaccine

New research has advanced COVID-19 vaccine work in several ways: using a modified live attenuated mumps virus for delivery, showing that a more stable coronavirus spike protein stimulates a stronger immune response, and suggesting a dose up the nose has an advantage over a shot.

Based on these combined findings in rodent experiments, Ohio State University scientists envision one day incorporating a coronavirus antigen into the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine as a way to produce COVID-19 immunity in kids.

“We were pushing to make a vaccine for infants and children with the idea that if we could incorporate the mumps COVID vaccine into the MMR vaccine, you’d have protection against four pathogens — measles, mumps, rubella and SARS-CoV-2 — in a single immunization program,” said Jianrong Li, senior author of the study and a professor of virology in Ohio State’s Department of Veterinary Biosciences and Infectious Diseases Institute.

“If infants and children could develop immunity against COVID infection with the MMR vaccine, that would be great — no extra immunization needed.”

The research is published today (July 27, 2022) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To create the antigen that stimulates immunity in this vaccine candidate, researchers used a prefusion version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — the shape it is in on the surface of the virus before the virus infects a cell. The spike was locked into this form by changing six of its amino acids to prolines, an inflexible amino acid.

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