UNM professors working to develop COVID-19 vaccine | KOB 4

UNM professors working to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Nathan O’Neal
Created: May 18, 2020 06:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Scientists at UNM are working to create vaccine that blocks COVID-19. 

"We have preliminary indications that are encouraging," said David Peabody, Ph.D.

Peabody, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, and his colleague, Bryce Chackerian, Ph.D., are spearheading the project.

"Basically what we've done is taken the shell of a very harmless virus -- a virus that normally infects bacteria, not humans or any animals, and we've taken that shell and we can decorate other things on the surface of that shell," Chackerian said. 

The idea is to create a virus-like particle that triggers the creation of anti-bodies which would, in turn, protect the body from COVID-19.

"Although we started this project in the middle of March, we have already immunized animals, and we're about to test whether those animals have developed an immune response effective against the coronavirus," Peabody said. 

Chackerian said they have developed about a half dozen vaccines that will be tested in animals. 

"So after that, hopefully, we can decide which of these vaccines work the best or potentially whether there's a combination of these vaccines is going to be most effective," Chackerian said.

Both Peabody and Chackerian are confident a vaccine will be developed, they believe the bigger question is how soon and how quickly it can be distributed.

"I think this might be a fairly easy virus to develop a vaccine for, so I'm really optimistic for the future," Chackerian said. 

Both scientist still insist their work is still in the early stages, and several steps need to be completed before clinical trial can take place. 

However, their project is funded through the end of the year.

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