A Pittsburgh university experienced in fighting SARS and MERS said Thursday that a potential coronavirus vaccine has proven effective in mice.
Researchers with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center say they are ready to start human trials as soon as the federal government gives its approval.
“When tested in mice, the vaccine, delivered through a fingertip-sized patch, produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus,” the UPMC team said in a press release.
The paper on what the researchers dubbed “PittCoVacc” appeared Thursday in EBioMedicine, which is published by The Lancet.
The scientists called their study the first on a COVID-19 vaccine to undergo critique from fellow scientists at outside institutions.
Dr. Louis Falo, chairman of dermatology at Pitt’s School of Medicine, said the vaccine doesn’t even need to be injected with a needle.
“It’s actually pretty painless — it feels kind of like Velcro,” he said.
Part of the researchers confidence is based on their experience in fighting related novel respiratory illnesses.
“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014. These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” said Dr. Andrea Gambotto, associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine.