Scientists have created a jab to help protect against multiple coronaviruses, even the ones ‘we don’t even know about yet’, according to its creators.

Created by experts from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Caltech in California, the project aims to ‘proactively’ build a vaccine before the next potential pandemic causing pathogen even becomes threat.  

The experimental shot, which has so far only been tested on mice, works by training the immune system to recognise parts of many different coronaviruses, a family of viruses that includes Covid, SARS and MERS. 

Current vaccines work by training the immune system to target a single specific type of virus, such as the measles jab. But the new jab can target several.

Such a jab could allow people to be protected from multiple types of coronaviruses in a single dose, including, in theory, ones currently unknown to science. 

Usually vaccines work by using a single antigen to train the immune system to target a specific virus. But this jab can target several

Usually vaccines work by using a single antigen to train the immune system to target a specific virus. But this jab can target several

Usually vaccines work by using a single antigen to train the immune system to target a specific virus. But this jab can target several

The jab works by using a tiny ball of proteins called a ‘quartet nanocage’.

Scientists then used what they called a ‘protein superglue’ to attach antigens which are substances that trigger an immune response in the body, enabling it to fight off pathogens. 

The resulting vaccine enables the immune system to recognise parts of eight coronaviruses. 

This includes some that are currently only found in wild bats but that could, in theory, go on to infect humans in future.

Using multiple antigens in this way allows the immune system to target parts of coronaviruses common across many individual viruses, including some that haven’t been found yet. 

For example, tests showed the jab helped mice fight off SARS-Cov-1, the pathogen that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak.

This is despite the jab not including any samples from this virus specifically. 

Rory Hills, a graduate researcher in pharmacology at the University of Cambridge’s department of pharmacology and the first author of the report said: ‘Our focus is to create a vaccine that will protect us against the next coronavirus pandemic, and have it ready before the pandemic has even started.’

He added: ‘We’ve created a vaccine that provides protection against a broad range of different coronaviruses — including ones we don’t even know about yet.’

Professor Mark Howarth, a senior author of the study, said the results could be a stepping stone to making new vaccines even faster than those created during the darkest days of the Covid pandemic.  

‘Scientists did a great job in quickly producing an extremely effective Covid vaccine during the last pandemic, but the world still had a massive crisis with a huge number of deaths,’ he said. 

‘We need to work out how we can do even better than that in the future, and a powerful component of that is starting to build the vaccines in advance.’

Publishing their results Nature Nanotechnology the scientists hope to start clinical trials of their new vaccine by early 2025.

Source: Mail Online

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