New Covid-19 vaccine in development

Just over a year on from the first lockdown in the UK and over 451 million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination globally. However, mutations to the virus could leave vaccinated populations vulnerable once again. Thanks to a collaboration between cancer researchers and virologists at the University of Nottingham, a new vaccine is in the works which potentially has greater chances of success against a mutating virus.

"When Covid-19 first arrived, my first thought was to let the people with expertise in infectious disease vaccines get on with it,” said Professor Lindy Durrant, a specialist in Immunotherapy at the University of Nottingham, “Then I thought I know a lot about T-cells and most people aren’t concentrating on this aspect so it might be worth a conversation. And when I spoke to Professor Jonathan Ball and Janet Daly here at the university they got very excited! There was a lot of focus on the spike protein in the early vaccines so we thought that this could be a good avenue for us to explore.” 

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The current vaccines in use around the world work by targeting the spike protein of the virus which latches on to the human cells. Mutations to the spike protein have already been found in the new variants that have spread across the UK, South Africa and Brazil. 

The human immune system uses two approaches to fight a virus; one is antibodies which attach themselves to the spike protein and bring in other cells to kill the virus, the other is ‘T-cells’ which recognise cells infected with a virus and then kill these cells.

By developing a vaccine which stimulates T-cells as well as antibodies, the chances of success could be increased, even against a mutating virus.

“By targeting both the spike protein and nucleocapsid protein, which triggers a strong T-cell response, we effectively double the chances we have to defeat the virus. In animal studies we are getting good, if not better, antibody levels than other vaccines, and increased T-cell responses. We’re due to start early-stage clinical trials this spring and hope that we see more positive results. I thank everyone who has supported our research financially. It would be fantastic for us to contribute to the global vaccine response and know that our work is helping to save lives. ”


Read more from Ambition issue 2:

The Social Impact Game: Everyone's a winner
Find out how student Polly is using the Social Impact Game to help others and develop her skills.

Waste not, want Notts
How student project Foodprint has been helping the local community during the pandemic.

How your support has helped students shine through the pandemic
We asked two students to tell us how they have dealt with the challenges created by Covid-19.

Graduating to the frontline
How one medicine scholar has been fast-tracked to the fight against Covid-19.

New home for University Radio Nottingham thanks to your donations
University Radio Nottingham has moved out of its former home in the basement to a shiny new studio in the Portland Building. 

From grassroots to greatness
How your support for our student project fund Cascade is helping make sport accessible to all.



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Ambition issue two is also available as a PDF.

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