29.08.2020 change 29.08.2020

Gdańsk and Kraków researchers team up to find COVID-19 vaccine

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Researchers from Gdańsk and Kraków have joined forces to develop an effective and safe vaccine against COVID-19.

By using the properties of exosomes, small vesicles present in most biological fluids in the body which act as signal 'transmitters' between cells and can change their function, the researchers plan to stimulate T cells to destroy those cells infected by the virus.

The scientists plan to design and generate artificial exosomes, and then test them as a new way to induce a cellular antiviral response targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This could contribute to the development of a unique approach to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Danuta Gutowska-Owsiak from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology of the University of Gdańsk and the Medical University of Gdańsk, who specializes in the study of the human immune system said: 

“We want to test this option, create artificial nanostructures that will activate T cells and check their effectiveness in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.”

“The human body has different methods of responding to the virus. Among them are activation of macrophages and granulocytes or the release of interferons. 

“One method is also to activate specific classes of T cells, which destroy cells infected by the virus and thus limit its spread. Therefore, activation of T cells can be an effective therapeutic strategy and protect against infection.”

Colleague Professor Jonathan Heddle from the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University, an expert in nanobiotechnology added: “Many laboratories around the world are currently working on an effective COVID-19 vaccine, and some of these studies are already at a very advanced stage. 

“But we still do not know what the effectiveness of the resulting preparations will be and which of them will induce a strong and long-lasting immune response. 

“Therefore, it is necessary to test and study different ways and different strategies to stimulate the body to fight the virus, including the use of artificial exosomes. 

“We hope that our results will prove useful not only in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but also against other pathogens that may become a threat in the future.”

The scientists received over PLN 2.6 million from the Foundation for Polish Science in a thematic competition for financing new research tasks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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