Znak Politechniki Warszawskiej

Scientists from the WUT working on a COVID-19 vaccine

Photo of the virus

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The development of a nanovaccine based on recombinant SARS-CoV-2 virus proteins covalently bound to biodegradable iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) has become the goal of a research team comprised of scientists from the Faculty of Chemical and Process Engineering and the Centre for Advanced Materials and Technologies, as well as a group of immunologists. The research is conducted under the Excellence Initiative – Research University program (the competition ‘IDUB against COVID-19’).

Our scientists want their vaccine to be simple and inexpensive to manufacture. They also intend to propose a method of fast development and production of vaccines against mutant forms of the virus or new viruses and bacteria that may be identified in the future. The team is led by Prof. Tomasz Ciach, DSc, Eng. of the Faculty of Chemical and Process Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology.

The researchers are preparing for the animal studies stage. At the same time the team is seeking an industrial partner interested in manufacturing the vaccine. This will significantly accelerate the development process.

The study is ongoing

The scientists are using their expertise in genetic engineering, chemistry, industrial biotechnology and nanotechnology. This allowed them to produce three variants of the recombinant SARS-CoV-2 capsid proteins (i.e. epitopes) demonstrating, according to the latest scientific data, the highest immunogenicity (immune response). They also managed to decorate the biocompatible and biodegradable nanoparticles with the produced recombinant epitopes of the virus.

These recombinant proteins have been isolated, purified and covalently bound to biodegradable iron oxide nanoparticles. The nanoparticle itself as well as its capsid act as an adjuvant, increasing the immune response.

Nanovaccines engineered using this technology, consisting of nanoparticles decorated with recombinant viral capsid proteins, will be tested on human cell lines, and afterwards, on animal models. It should be noted that the viral proteins with suitable additions may constitute an effective vaccine.

After administering the vaccine to mice the researchers will evaluate its toxicity and, by the assessment of antibody titer, also the level and durability of the immune response.

Testing the immunogenicity of nanoparticles decorated with recombinant SARS-CoV-2 capsid proteins

A promising vaccine

The research approach adopted by our scientists, involving simultaneous use of many immunogenic epitopes and multivalent delivery nanosystems, increases the chance of achieving an effective and durable immune response. Nanoparticle-based vaccines are a promising technology due to their lack of toxicity, high biocompatibility and stability. They enable antigen delivery to antigen-presenting cells, which ensures effective learning and stimulation of the immune system.

As highlighted by the researchers, currently there are no nanosystems on the vaccine market that use the technology of covalent bonding of one or more epitopes to the nanoparticle surface.

The “Development of a nano-vaccine based on recombinant SARS-CoV-2 virus proteins covalently bound to nanoparticles” project is financed under the Excellence Initiative – Research University program as part of the competition ‘IDUB against COVID-19’.

The research team includes: Prof. Tomasz Ciach, DSc, Eng. (project manager), Anna Mazurkiewicz-Pisarek, DSc, Eng., Jakub Trzciński, DSc., Alina Mazurkiewicz, MSc., Eng.

 

Source: badawcza.pw.edu.pl (based on resources provided by Prof. Tomasz Ciach, DSc, Eng.)