Developing a synthetic vaccine for COVID-19

A team of scientists and clinicians from CSCR and CMC, Vellore are making efforts to develop a synthetic vaccine for COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease). The vaccine comprises of an mRNA (genetic code of virus) that can act as an antigen (substance which induces an immune response in the body) similar to that of SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. This in turn stimulates immune cells (cells that fight infection) to produce specific antibodies targeted to destroy the virus at entry. The mRNA is wrapped in a custom-made lipid bubble, which serves as a vehicle for delivering mRNA into the target cells in the body. Scientists at CSCR have already tested the lipid delivery vehicle for its efficiency in delivering nucleic acids for other purposes. They are now synthesizing the specific mRNA of interest for this vaccine. This will be tested in animal models following which, depending on the results, this could be taken to testing in humans.

Most vaccines administer specific protein antigens of the infectious agent to which the body mounts an immune response. In this case, the delivered mRNA molecules code for the virus protein and asks the body to produce the same after administration which then leads to the desired immune response. The team has also developed a cell membrane (outer layer of a cell) mimicking lipid vehicle that protects the mRNA from enzymatic degradations in the body allowing efficient delivery to target cells. Unlike conventional vaccines, this vaccine does not require huge quantities of the virus grown in cell culture systems but can be produced through synthetic (artificial) route to accelerate the scale up and potentially wide application in human beings.

Contact details:

Scientists leading the effort:

  • Dr. Srujan Marepally (Email: srujankm@cmcvellore.ac.in)
  • Dr. Alok Srivastava (Email: aloks@cmcvellore.ac.in)

Communication officer of the institute:

  • Dr. Md. Manzoor Akheel (Email: cscrrdo@cmcvellore.ac.in)

Post Author: cscr

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