Coronavirus outbreak: Have Israel’s researchers found a vaccine to put an end to the global fears surrounding the deadly coronavirus outbreak? Amidst the outbreak of deadly coronavirus, which has no known cure so far, Israel-based MIGAL Galilee Research Institute has said in a statement on its official website that is close to finding a cure for COVID-19. The Institute has been working on developing a vaccine for avian Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) coronavirus for the past four years in research funded by the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology. IBV is an ailment which affects poultry and the vaccine for IBV was found effective for its intended ailment during the pre-clinical trials at the Volcani Institute. The possibility of the development of a vaccine for coronavirus was a by-product, the institute's statement on MIGAL website has said.
Tests conducted by MIGAL found that the coronavirus affecting the poultry had genetic similarities to that affecting the humans currently and both use the same infection mechanism. The institute has now made certain required genetic modifications to make the vaccine suitable for humans and is working on getting the safety nod to be able to conduct pre-clinical tests on the vaccine. If all goes well, the institute will be able to push the vaccine into production to tackle the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 people so far and affected another 80,000.
On the development, Israel's Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis said that he is confident that there would be rapid progress in this area and soon, the vaccine will be developed to tackle COVID-19. He further directed the ministry's Director-General to fast-track the approval process for the vaccine.
MIGAL Galilee Research Institute CEO David Zigdon has said in the statement on MIGAL website that the institute is taking all possible measures to accelerate the development of the vaccine, keeping in mind the urgent requirement of such a measure across the globe. He said the institute aims to develop the vaccine in the next eight to 10 weeks and get safety approvals within the next three months. He further said that the aim is to make the vaccine an oral one, to increase its accessibility to the masses. He also revealed that the institute is in talks with different potential partners who can help in expediting the in-human trials phase and completion of the final product development.
Biotechnology Group Leader at MIGAL Dr Chen Katz explained how the vaccine works. He said that the vaccine for IBV has been made on a protein expression vector which secretes a soluble protein. This soluble protein delivers the antigen to the viral into tissues via endocytosis. Endocytosis is a process in which the injected material is surrounded by cell membrane, bringing the material into the cell. When the antigen enters the tissues, the body can create antibodies against the virus. During pre-clinical trials, the institute found that oral vaccination led to higher levels of anti-IBV antibodies.
If the vaccine is developed, it could help in putting an end to the novel coronavirus which started affecting China's Wuhan in the tail-end of 2019 and spread rapidly across the world at the beginning of 2020. The disease is so severe with no known treatments that the World Health Organization had to declare a global health emergency.