Potential Coronavirus Vaccine Developed by Medical Researchers in Pittsburgh

Researchers are waiting on approval from the FDA to start human trials

April 2, 2020

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine announced Thursday a potential vaccine for the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

 The vaccine has been effective on mice when delivered through a patch on the skin that researchers say feels like Velcro on the skin.

Researchers say production of the patches and vaccine is scalable and if effective, can be produced in large quantities.

Scientists are awaiting approval from the FDA for expedited human trials.

It is the first study to be published after it was critiqued by other scientists “at outside institutions that describes a candidate vaccine for COVID-19.”

During a news conference, UPMC said this is the first potential vaccine in the world to reach this important stage.

The research was able to move swiftly due to previous work during other coronavirus epidemics.

“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said co-senior author Andrea Gambotto, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine. “That’s why it’s important to fund vaccine research. You never know where the next pandemic will come from.”

“Our ability to rapidly develop this vaccine was a result of scientists with expertise in diverse areas of research working together with a common goal,” said co-senior author Louis Falo, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of dermatology at Pitt’s School of Medicine and UPMC.

The scientists’ findings are published in a paper in EBioMedicine and the authors are calling the potential vaccine PittCoVacc, which is short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine.

The vaccine that eradicated Polio was developed at the University of Pittsburgh by Dr. Jonas Salk.

There is currently no word on when the vaccine would be available to the public.

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