Israeli varsity says new findings may lead to COVID vaccine

Israeli researchers have identified coronavirus molecules that may lead to the development of a vaccine against the virus, Bar Ilan University (BIU) in central Israel said.

In a study published in the journal MDPI Vaccines on Thursday, BIU researchers examined antigen molecules, that provoke an immune response of antibody production, Xinhua news agency reported.

The team identified a set of potential epitopes, protein parts of antigen molecules, in the protein set of the virus.

These epitopes can generate both antibody and cell-mediated immune responses.

The researchers have taken a bioinformatics-based computational approach to mine the protein content of the virus and subsequently identified the virus’s epitopes that provoke the most intense immune response.

Thus, the team identified 15 potential regions that can provoke immune response in three proteins of the virus and mapped 25 such epitopes on other proteins of the virus.

According to the team, seven of the epitopes are deemed to be present in more than 87 per cent of the worldwide virus-affected population.

The seven epitopes were tested using multiple tools to verify their non-allergenic and non-toxic natures, as well as to demonstrate that they carry a low risk of triggering any autoimmune responses.

According to the team, the results indicate that the seven epitopes represent potentially effective candidates for a vaccine composed of small proteins (peptide-based vaccine).