Image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
A “pan-coronavirus vaccine” could, as the name may suggest, have the potential to eradicate the need for variant-specific formulae when it comes to protecting ourselves from infection and severe onset of symptoms.
“There have been five… variants of concern: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and now the current omicron,” explains White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci in a press briefing last week.
“Obviously, innovative approaches are needed to induce broad and durable protection against coronaviruses that are known and some that are even at this point unknown. Hence, the terminology ‘pan-coronavirus vaccine.’”
And it might not be in the hands of any well-known pharmaceutical company synonymous with the invention of vaccines but, instead, lies in the responsibilities of the US Army.
The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) vaccine, made by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, recently completed its first phase of human trials, according to a recent press release.
CNET reports that the SpFN vaccine, unlike the conventional mRNA-based Pfizer or Moderna, uses a “harmless” part of the coronavirus to activate the body’s immune system.
Ferritin, an iron-based protein, is key in helping the vaccine to recognize multiple spike proteins at once, hence its universality. As reported by PharmaLive, its structure is unique with 24 sides, and all of them can have a different viral protein attachment.
In preclinical studies with primates, it was shown that the vaccine didn’t just elicit a “potent immune response,” but it “may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern” alongside other coronaviruses.
Although Phase One of human trials has been completed, there is still much testing to be done before the vaccine can be made available. There is no information to date about its potential availability. But maybe it might even be the last one that ever needs to be developed.
[via CNET and PharmaLive, image via the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research]