29.07.2020 change 29.07.2020

‘We’ll have killer virus vaccine in less than two months’, says expert

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A leading immunologist has said that a vaccine for coronavirus will be found within a month and a half and that “it will work."

Professor Andrzej Mackiewicz from the Medical Biology Centre of the Poznan University of Medical Sciences said: “The Polish COVID-19 vaccine is much more advanced, two generations ahead of what the Americans and the Chinese have created.

“They are using vaccine concepts constructed on SARS-CoV-1. Such constructs may have problems with durability.” 

The design of the COVID-19 vaccine created by Professor Andrzej Mackiewicz and his team is based on the same technology as cancer vaccines, because, as he explains, some human defence mechanisms are similar in the case of viruses and cancer.

He said: “Our proprietary therapeutic cancer vaccines are based on genetically modified cancer cells. 

“In the COVID-19 vaccine, instead of cancer cells we use healthy cells, into which we insert the same gene that we use in cancer vaccines to additionally activate immune mechanisms (called molecular adjuvant). 

“In addition, we add selected genes of the virus, including the gene responsible for penetrating the cells of the infected. 

“In simple terms, the formation of antibodies blocking this penetration and the induction of other mechanisms that are not generated by other vaccines occur.

“We have practically the entire production line for the production of cell vaccines under sterile conditions. Appropriate cell banks will also be needed, because the vaccine contains live cells that need to be stored in liquid nitrogen. 

“Then the 'artificial viruses' are multiplied in a culture and ready to be administered. The advantage or our vaccine is that we inject people with 'ready-made fragments of the virus' and they do not have to be produced, for example, in a human muscle, as in the case of vaccines created by Americans.”

Mackiewicz and his team are also working on targeted immunotherapy for cancer patients infected with COVID-19. Its aim is to inhibit the development of the virus, with a simultaneous anti-cancer effect.

After passing audits carried out in Poland by the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspector, who is a representative of the European Medicines Agency, Professor Mackiewicz's team will be able to start the phase of human trials of the vaccine. 

The scientists need PLN 15 million for the next six months of work on the vaccine.

Mackiewicz said: “Remember that this money is worth spending, because it's always better to have your own product than to buy a vaccine from abroad. Americans, whose work on the vaccine and against COVID-19 is currently most advanced, will vaccinate people in the US first, and only then sell their vaccine to others. 

“Our chances for a vaccine from Russia are also slim, because Russia has different safety regulations. Let's take advantage of the fact that we have everything: the concept, the technology, the production line, a team of scientists and many years of experience.”

PAP - Science in Poland, Monika Witkowska

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