A vaccine developed by researchers at Stanford University contains nanoparticles studded with the same proteins that comprise the virus’s distinctive surface spikes. The advantage of nanoparticle-based vaccines is they balance the effectiveness of viral-based vaccines with the safety and ease-of-production of subunit vaccines.
Initial tests in mice suggest that the Stanford nanoparticle vaccine could produce COVID-19 immunity after just one dose. For the mouse tests, the researchers compared their shortened spike nanoparticles to four other potentially useful variations: nanoparticles with full spikes, full spikes or partial spikes without nanoparticles, and a vaccine containing just the section of the spike that binds to cells during infection. They used pseudo-coronavirus that was modified to carry SARS-CoV-2’s spike.
After a single dose, the two nanoparticle vaccine candidates both resulted in neutralizing antibody levels at least twice as high as those seen in people who have had COVID-19, and the shortened spike nanoparticle vaccine produced a significantly higher neutralizing response than the binding spike or the full spike (non-nano particle) vaccines. After a second dose, mice that had received the shortened spike nanoparticle vaccine had the highest levels of neutralizing antibodies.
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