The University of Valencia has filed a patent application for a vaccine candidate against COVID-19, developed by a research team from the Department of Microbiology. It is a subunit type vaccine (those designed from components of viruses or bacteria) and is based on SARS-CoV-2 protein S.
“For this patent, the proposed immunogen (any molecule foreign to the body that provokes an immune response) is obtained from insect cells with baculovirus technology, a technique that has also been chosen by large pharmaceutical companies for the development of their vaccine against COVID-19”, explains Jesús Rodríguez, member of the research group together with Roberto Gozalbo Rovira and Javier Buesa.
“The patent registration was made on May 12 and represents a milestone for the fight against SARS-CoV-2. Although it is true that there are many vaccines in development by public and private entities, the more vaccine candidates are developed, the greater the chances of obtaining an efficient vaccine in a short period of time”, explained Jesús Rodríguez, also a Ramón y Cajal researcher.
The research proposes, in addition to developing a vaccine, to create rapid diagnostic systems based on SARS-CoV-2 protein S and the development of antibodies with therapeutic potential against COVID-19.
The team has already produced a first version of the vaccine in the insect cell and baculovirus system, and is currently improving the production and purification system to begin animal testing shortly. Regarding financing, the team has submitted projects to the Carlos III Health Institute (pending) call, and to the CaixaImpulse programme, of which the project has entered the second phase. The group has also just joined a consortium made up of other research staff from the University of Valencia and the CSIC Institute of Biomedicine in order to present themselves to the call launched by CRUE and Banco Santander.
A feature of this development is that the main researcher did not wait to obtain research funds to develop the vaccine. In view of the need for a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, Jesús Rodríguez allocated research funds obtained from compatible funding sources (contracts with companies) to pay for the experiments necessary to reach this research result. This is why a patentable vaccine has been reached so quickly. However, Rodríguez remarks: “there are still many experiments to be carried out to test their efficacy and safety in animals before being able to go on to human studies”.