Lab-created virus resembles coronavirus; Might aid in finding vaccine and drug for COVID-19
Washington : The world is still reeling with coronavirus and our life continues to get difficult. Without any cure or vaccine or drug, it seems very difficult to bring the virus under control and contain it. This virus originated from Wuhan, China and continued to spread across the globe to various countries. Only a handful of countries are left unaffected by this deadly and highly contagious virus.
This is why the best minds across the world are working on finding a solution in the form of a vaccine that can protect us from this virus and prevent it from spreading further. One such group of scientists have created a genetically modified mild virus which pushes our body to create antibodies similar those created to fighting coronavirus. This virus does not cause any severe symptoms or health problems. This genetically modified virus can help all the researchers who are working on finding a cure or a vaccine or drug to fight coronavirus. This can help in the testing process of the vaccine or cure or drug for COVID-19.
Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, United States, created this mild virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). This was widely used by virologists for experiments. They swapped one of its genes for one from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This study was published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe and gave positive results.
This virus is highly contagious and can be deadly which is why researchers need to take maximum precautions while studying coronavirus. The scientists should wear full-body biohazard suits with pressurised respirators. It is also essential that the laboratories where they work have multiple containment levels as well as specialised ventilation systems. Coronavirus is to be studied only under high-level biosafety conditions which are not easily available to a large number of researchers which in turn slows down the process. This is why the genetically modified virus was created by the researchers as its easy to handle and is safe and lacks the genes required to cause severe infection and symptoms.
This hybrid virus might help researches under the antibody-based vaccines, antiviral drug and other preventives and treatments against COVID-19. It can also be used to test an experimental vaccine and see if it can create adequate antibodies in a coronavirus patient and if a survivor of COVID-19 can donate plasma to help other infected individuals.
“One of the problems in evaluating neutralizing antibodies is that a lot of these tests require a BSL-3 facility, and most clinical labs and companies don’t have BSL-3 facilities. With this surrogate virus, you can take serum, plasma or antibodies and do high-throughput analyses at BSL-2 levels, which every lab has, without a risk of getting infected. And we know that it correlates almost perfectly with the data we get from bona fide infectious SARS-CoV-2," said Michael Diamond, professor of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine.