Scientists urge for investment now in highly potent vaccines to prevent the next pandemic

February 09, 2021

LA JOLLA, CA--As new COVID-19 variants begin to throw vaccine efficacy in question, two leading scientists are calling for health agencies to invest in the development of vaccines that would be broadly effective against many different variants and strains of potential pandemic viruses.

In a Nature, Dennis Burton, PhD, and Eric Topol, MD, of Scripps Research call for governments to provide significant funding support for rational vaccine design based on broadly neutralizing antibodies.

Such antibodies provide broad-spectrum potency against viruses, a valuable characteristic that opens the door to vaccines that could provide immunity against the many variants that might evolve from a fast-mutating virus. They could also be used as drugs to prevent and treat infections.

Burton and Topol note that the rapid development of effective vaccines against COVID-19 was possible due to certain properties of the SARS-CoV-2 virus--in particular, the spike protein on the virus's surface. But they warn that the virus driving the next pandemic may not provide such a ready target, which could substantially slow the process of developing a novel vaccine.

"Even SARS-CoV-2 could be becoming more problematic for vaccines because of the emergence of new variants," they write. "We call for an alternative approach to pandemic preparedness."

Burton and Topol point to broadly neutralizing antibodies as a promising avenue for developing vaccines and therapies that might be readily adapted to newly emerged pandemic viruses or those that rapidly evolve to evade traditional vaccines.

"Such antibodies could be used as first-line drugs to prevent or treat viruses in a given family, including new lineages or strains that have not yet emerged," the write. "More importantly, they could be used to design vaccines against many members of a given family of viruses."

Of particularly concern for future pandemics are viruses that are "evasion-strong," meaning their biological characteristics make them challenging to treat with drugs or prevent with vaccines. The extreme example of this type of virus is HIV, which can stay in the body for years, hiding from the host's immune system.

Burton and his colleagues at Scripps Research and other organizations are currently developing vaccines based on broadly neutralizing antibodies in hopes of producing the world's first truly effective HIV vaccines.

They are also seeking to employ broadly neutralizing antibodies as therapies and vaccines against influenza, another evasive virus and prime contender for future pandemics.

"Such pan-virus vaccines could be made in advance and deployed before the next emerging infection becomes a pandemic," Burton and Topol write. "We call for an investment now in basic research leading to the stockpiling of broadly effective vaccines."
-end-


Scripps Research Institute

Related Vaccines Articles from Brightsurf:

Comprehensive safety testing of COVID-19 vaccines based on experience with prior vaccines
'The urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines must be balanced with the imperative of ensuring safety and public confidence in vaccines by following the established clinical safety testing protocols throughout vaccine development, including both pre- and post-deployment,' write David M.

Safety of HPV vaccines in males
A new analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows that HPV vaccines are safe and well tolerated in the male population, and the side effects that may occur after immunization are similar in both sexes.

Model could improve design of vaccines, immunotherapies
Researchers have discovered a general property for understanding how immune cell receptors sense and respond to microbial signals, which could lead to more effective vaccines for both existing and novel viruses.

Better vaccines are in our blood
Red blood cells don't just shuttle oxygen from our lungs to our organs: they also help the body fight off infections by capturing pathogens in the blood and presenting them to immune cells in the spleen.

Challenges in evaluating SARS-CoV-2 vaccines
With more than 140 SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in development, the race is on for a successful candidate to help prevent COVID-19.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

Misinformation on vaccines readily available online
Parents researching childhood vaccinations online are likely to encounter significant levels of negative information, researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, have found.

Battle with the cancer: New avenues from childhood vaccines
A new research from the University of Helsinki showed for the first time how the pre-immunization acquired through common childhood vaccines can be used to enhance therapeutic cancer treatment.

Personalized cancer vaccines
The only therapeutic cancer vaccine available on the market has so far showed very limited efficacy in clinical trials.

Doubts raised about effectiveness of HPV vaccines
A new analysis of the clinical trials of HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer raises doubts about the vaccines' effectiveness.

Read More: Vaccines News and Vaccines Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.