Thomas Jefferson University researchers develop COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Researchers at Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University have developed a vaccine candidate to combat COVID-19 and are starting safety testing in animals.

The vaccine, known as CORAVAX, is made from a portion of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein component is used, the most likely part to generate a protective immune response. CORAVAX uses the rabies vaccine to carry the portion of the virus, so when vaccinated, an individual would develop antibodies against both rabies and the coronavirus spike protein.  

"The benefit is that the 'carrier' vaccine has already been rigorously tested and shown to be safe and effective," Matthias Schnell, PhD, director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center, explained in the news release. "There are manufacturing plants around the world already running and with the technological know-how to produce large quantities of that vaccine."

The vaccine candidate must complete animal tests before moving on to clinical trials for safety in people.

"Novelty is not your friend when you need [a] vaccine in real time," Mark Tykocinski, MD, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs of Thomas Jefferson University, said. "The stakes are just too high to bet on something that might fail in the late stages of development, or that can't be made in quantity."

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