Work on a “universal” vaccine at the Trudeau Institute | News, Sports, Jobs
SARANAC LAKE — Bill Reiley, a researcher at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, began working on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 before the coronavirus began spreading across the country.
Although the papers he has contributed to, alongside the Walter Reed Army Research Institute, have not been used in any of the treatments or vaccines currently being used to fight the virus, he knows they will be invaluable. when the next pandemic, or a new strain of the current virus, spreads.
The Trudeau Institute has previously worked with Walter Reed, researching a vaccine candidate against the Zika virus for the past six years.
Trudeau Institute president and director Atsuo Kuki said Walter Reed researchers were interested in the Trudeau Institute’s specializations in testing vaccines and virus treatments on animals, and visited the establishment before the pandemic.
Kayvon Modjarrad, the founding director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed, was one of the researchers who visited the Trudeau Institute.
When Operation Warp Speed arrived – a federal initiative to research and create vaccines and treatments to combat the virus – Modjarrad became a member of the operation and called on the Trudeau Institute to collaborate.
Reiley’s research began towards the end of 2019, when the coronavirus was still believed to be mostly confined to China, where the outbreak began.
His study was completed in 2020 and published in later journals. Now that they have published these studies, they can talk about them.
Modjarrad is the lead author of both articles in Nature and Cell Reports.
Multipurpose vaccines and treatments
Walter Reed has lost the race to be the first to create a vaccine for COVID-19, but may have the opportunity to create long-lasting treatments in the “second wave of vaccines”.
This vaccine platform is interchangeable, Reiley said. Essentially, they created a base recipe. All that needs to be done is remove the COVID-19 ingredient and put in whatever is needed.
“Plug in and use,” Reiley called him.
That’s the strongest thing about their vaccine.
It can quickly be molded to combat the “next pandemic” whether it is a new variant of coronavirus or a completely new virus.
He said these universal vaccines and treatments could be useful as society enters an epidemic phase of the virus.
The vaccine they worked on went through phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, moving to human trials once they knew it was safe and testing efficacy trials with humans and animals at the same time.
“The antibody response created by the vaccine was really effective in protecting the mice,” Reiley said, adding that the therapeutic treatment was also effective in creating antibodies.
He said the antibody treatments he tested had similar success and versatility. However, this treatment has not yet been tested in clinical trials.
Reiley said there was a possible problem with current vaccines. There are concerns that the virus could mutate and that vaccines should continue to be redeveloped against the current strain, such as seasonal flu shots.
Have a “universal vaccine” would be helpful. Kuki and Reiley said they hoped for more funding to continue studying this type of vaccine.
This would allow future vaccine developers to get their products through clinical trials much faster, as much of the work is already done for them.
Reiley said they weren’t immediately gearing up to create a universal vaccine, but it was on their minds. While research was being done on the coronavirus, scientists knew it could likely mutate. The only purpose of a virus is to keep spreading, he said.
When the virus hit the UK and started mutating in 2020, he said they started focusing on more than the parent strain.
Reiley said it was “great to be at the forefront” virus research.
“I’ve never seen the scientific community do what they did with the pandemic,” he said. “He really opened his arms with the amount of information sharing. It was just huge.
Around the world, he said, researchers are sharing information before publishing it, posting it to industry blogs as soon as they can to allow others to research and verify information as soon as possible. .
In an emergency, he said scientists were of the view that they could not wait for peer review – they had to publish their research, see if it held up and hope it might lead to a discovery. crucial.
“Going into this pandemic, the preparedness was not where it should have been,” Reiley said.
There had not been a pandemic of this magnitude for over 100 years.
“It was always on the minds of scientists, but it’s a hard thing to fund until it came to the fore,” he said.
Reiley said researchers are now catching up and looking for global solutions as long as there is funding for it.
The response to the pandemic has been marked by vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine movements. But Reiley hopes people realize that vaccines are safe and the most effective way to stay healthy.
“Vaccines provide protection, they really do,” he said.
He said time tends to make people forget about all the horrible diseases our ancestors suffered and died from – polio, measles, mumps and rubella, which are not as common anymore.
“Vaccines have made these pathogens a thing of the past for the majority of people,” Reiley said.
But COVID-19 has posed a new threat and has now killed more than a million people in the United States and around 15 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization estimates.
Reiley said he understands why some people are hesitant to get vaccinated. There has been inaccurate literature on vaccines in the past that has tainted the opinions of some people, he said, and there is still the ongoing ethical debate over personal rights. He said there are personal rights, but the choices of individuals impact others.
Kuki said that not becoming a carrier of the virus helps others tremendously. Even if someone is not at risk of serious illness, he said getting vaccinated can still protect his entire community.
Trudeau changes and grows
Kuki describes three phases of “Trudeaux”.
Trudeau 1.0 was Edward Livingston Trudeau, the doctor himself, researching and treating tuberculosis from his office and home in Saranac Lake in the late 1800s.
Trudeau 2.0 began when the Trudeau Institute was founded in 1964 by the famous doctor’s grandson, Frank Trudeau.
Kuki said Trudeau 3.0 started in 2016 and was an effort to “punch above (their) weight” and collaborate globally by providing highly targeted research. He said the aim of the institute was to provide valuable research and work in big projects.
Reiley said the Trudeau Institute has a good track record of working with pathogens in biosafety labs and working at scale, speed and quality.
Because the institute is relatively small, he said it makes it easier to share real-time data. During a pandemic, he said saving time is very important.
Reiley said he was grateful for the work of Trudeau Institute staff and the large team of researchers they are linked to across the country.
Kuki said he hoped to continue partnering with Walter Reed.
“We choose them well,” he said.
Reiley and Kuki said they are still hopeful against pandemics, but if another does occur, they believe that because of the research they have contributed to over the past two years, the scientific community will be better prepared to respond.