He said Burnet’s vaccine development team, led by Professor Heidi Drummer and Dr Andy Poumbourios, planned to do this by modifying the COVID-19 spike used in the vaccine so that it was less flexible and stiffer.
“We have some of our technology and knowledge that describes how to make this ultra-stable, much more than others have been able to do, as far as we know… the potency of the antibodies produced by this goes, hopefully be substantially higher than what you would otherwise get.
The Burnet scientists also want to apply their research to understanding how the immune system fights malaria by developing a more effective vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease, which is believed to kill hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five each year.
Professor James Beeson, head of Burnet’s Malaria Immunity and Vaccines Laboratory, said developing a malaria vaccine was difficult in several ways, partly because the disease was more common in countries low- and middle-income earners without big budgets to spend on health care. .
It was also a difficult disease for which it was difficult to develop a vaccine. He said that while COVID-19 only had a handful of proteins, malaria had something like 5,000.
“It’s a sophisticated body with a lot of tricks up its sleeves,” Beeson said.
Like COVID-19, hepatitis C also has a problem with variants, and Beeson said Burnet researchers have made significant progress on how a vaccine could be developed that covers known variants.
If a vaccine were to be developed, it would be the first against the disease.
“In Australian research… there are a lot of great advances, discoveries and developments, but trying to take the next step of finding a partner who has the capacity and the technical expertise to produce a product like a vaccine , it is really lacking. », Beeson.
Infectious disease physician Dr. Paul Griffin, who has worked on several vaccine trials, estimated there are around 125 additional new COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials.
He said vaccines that can be administered by nasal spray were showing promise among a group of second-generation candidates, and that they could be used in addition to existing vaccines to help reduce the spread of infection.
He said he was optimistic that mRNA vaccines also had potential as second-generation COVID-19 vaccines and to fight other viruses.
Griffin said the current cohort of COVID-19 vaccines have exceeded expectations, “but they’re not perfect, and there are a lot of additional desired properties that we would like in a vaccine.”
“Of course, the main thing we would like is a vaccine that reduces the likelihood of people getting infected much more.”
Hamilton Bennett, Senior Director of Vaccine Access and Partnerships at Moderna, said in a statement: “I am impressed with the scope of Burnet’s research from the lab to the field, and look forward to working with Burnet to accelerate the development of their new candidates.
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