Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus | MGR Medical University develops ‘vaccine candidate’

It has identified a synthetic polypeptide which can bind the viral genome

In three weeks of research, the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University has developed a vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2 through ‘reverse vaccinology’, the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Sudha Seshayyan, said on Wednesday.

In the first phase, the university has developed a synthetic polypeptide that could bind the viral genome, and is all set to move to the next phase of research.

“It is a process called reverse vaccinology. We worked with the viral genome sequence using bioinformatics. We have identified a synthetic polypeptide which can bind the viral genome. In the next stage, we will have to test this polypeptide on tissue cell lines. We are planning for that, and designing the protocols. Testing on tissue cultures will start after obtaining certain approval from regulatory agencies,” Dr. Seshayyan said. The university is yet to name the polypeptide, she added.

Dr. Seshayyan, along with the heads of the Departments of Immunology and Microbiology, and Epidemiology, and a research student of the university, devised the model. “This is only the first phase but we have found that it is 70% the correct vaccine candidate. The work will take at least a year from now. We are taking measures to collaborate with a U.S.-based centre for pre-clinical and clinical studies,” she said.

Explaining the process of ‘reverse vaccinology’, she said, “Earlier, we had to do a viral culture in the laboratory to develop a vaccine, and this was time-consuming. It will take time to find out the protein in the virus. The ‘reverse vaccinology’ technique has been available for the last 10 to 15 years. We now have the facility to unwrap the entire genomic sequence. We have the genomic sequence with us. With this, we know what molecules make the genomic sequence.”

Using ‘reverse vaccinology’, vaccinations were developed for meningococcal and staphylococcal infections all through the world, she added.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 3:48:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coronavirus-mgr-medical-university-develops-vaccine-candidate/article31410701.ece

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