Belgian start-up working on ‘universal’ coronavirus vaccine

Belgian start-up working on ‘universal’ coronavirus vaccine
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A Ghent-based biotech start-up is working on a “universal” coronavirus vaccine through machine-learning and cancer treatment technologies.

Ghent start-up MyNEO, which specialises in targetted cancer treatments, said it had identified a “promising” peptide-based therapy capable of creating a targetted immune reaction against Covid-19 and other types of coronavirus, such as the ones that caused the MERS and SARS outbreaks.

Peptides are amino acid chains that are similar to but smaller in size than proteins and which the start-up uses to identify cell mutations that can cause cancer.

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“Normally, we compare DNA sequences of cancer cells with a patients’ healthy, normal cells,” the company said. “The various errors or ‘mutations’ that appear in a tumour cause mutated proteins, which the patient’s immune system can recognise,” the company told HLN.

Through the peptide therapy, MyNEO said it had been able to identify essential molecular compounds of the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the current Covid-19 pandemic, paving the way for a potential vaccine.

“By specifically targeting fragments that are necessary fo the virus’ activity, the vaccine would have a better effect against both SARS-CoV-2 and all other future forms of the virus’ family which share the same components,” MyNEO said.

“Our algorithms are able to predict which fragments of the mutated proteins are interesting for targeting a vaccine.”

MyNEO is now set to move forward with pre-clinical trials and is aiming to test the vaccine on humans in 2021.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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