A scientist from the University of Tel Aviv received a patent for a Corona vaccine – the scientist

The unique method, developed by Prof. Johnny Gershuni, is based on attacking the most vulnerable point of the virus – the site where it is attached to the human cell to penetrate it. The patent was approved in the US in March 2020

Prof. Johnny Gershuni. Photo: Tel Aviv University spokeswoman

Professor Johnny Gershuni of the School of Cellular Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Life Sciences recently received approval from the United States Patent Office for a patent on an innovative vaccine for the Corona family. The vaccine is based on an Achilles tendon injury: An area in the mantle protein of the virus called RBM, through which the virus binds to a human cell receptor to penetrate, the patent was approved in March 2020.

“I’ve been researching the interactions between viruses and their receptors in human cells for more than 35 years,” says Prof. Gershuni. “In 2004, at the end of the SARS epidemic, we began to investigate the virus that was causing it, and we also investigated the MERS virus – both of them from the Corona family. Based on these studies, we developed a highly effective immune system, and even issued a patent. The new Corona virus, SARS CoV2, The COVID-19 factor found us ready. In a short time, we will be able to adapt our approach as a platform for innovative and effective vaccine development to Corona. “

The novelty of the vaccine method developed by Prof. Gershuni is the possibility of targeting the immune response at the most sensitive and vulnerable point of the virus. “The principle of vaccine action, as a rule, is that they cause the immune system to develop antibodies that detect the virus or some of it, bind it to it and bind it; in this way, the antibody blocks the virus and prevents it from attaching to the cells and infecting them,” explains Prof. Gershuni, In the global effort to develop a vaccine for corona, researchers focus on the corona’s mantle protein, whose job is to pave the way for human cell infiltration. Vaccine efficacy. “

Prof. Gershuni explains that the mantle protein used in most studies is a large protein containing about 1,200 amino acids. Some researchers have reduced their work to a region of protein called S1 containing about 650 amino acids, and others have been able to focus on the region of about 200 amino acids known as receptor binding site (RBD). The problem is that these large areas have a variety of targets, the immune system produces antibodies for all of them indiscriminately – and deploying reduces the effectiveness of the vaccine. In addition, in trials conducted with SARS and MERS viruses, they found that when the target area for the antibodies is too large, the virus develops smart strategies that allow it to evade the antibody and may even aggravate the disease.

Corona virus in the bloodstream. Figure: shutterstock
Corona virus in the bloodstream. Figure: shutterstock

“Focus on the vulnerability of the virus”

“Therefore, the more we reduce the target and target the attack, the greater the effectiveness of the vaccine,” states Prof. Gershuni. “Within the RBD, there is an even smaller area of ​​about 50 amino acids, called RBM (Receptor Binding Motif – which is the exact site that identifies and binds the receptor on the human cell to penetrate and infect. The RBM is the weak point of “The virus, without it, has no infection, so the virus is taking far-reaching measures to hide it from the human immune system. The best way to ‘win the war’ is to develop a vaccine that specifically targets RBM.”

In previous studies dealing with SARS and MERS viruses, Prof. Gershuni and his team succeeded in overcoming complex technical challenges to isolate and reconstruct the virus’s RBM region – an essential step in vaccine development. They are now adapting the technology developed against the new corona virus SARS CoV2, which causes coronary disease (COVID-19). For this development, the university’s application company “Ramot” applied for a patent in the US and is currently under examination.

“In 15 years of research, we have built a solid foundation for developing a current vaccine for Corona, based on our experience in developing RBM for SARS and MERS viruses,” concludes Prof. Gershuni. “Later we intend, through Ramot, to transfer the technology to the industry, for the development and mass production of a vaccine that will eliminate the threat of corona worldwide.”

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