Archive for March 1, 2020

Israeli scientists: ‘In a few weeks, we will have coronavirus vaccine’ 

March 1, 2020

Source: Israeli scientists: ‘In a few weeks, we will have coronavirus vaccine’ – The Jerusalem Post

Once the vaccine is developed, it will take at least 90 days to complete the regulatory process and potentially more to enter the marketplace.

MIGAL researchers working vigorously to find a new coronavirus vaccine (photo credit: LIOR JOURNO)
MIGAL researchers working vigorously to find a new coronavirus vaccine
(photo credit: LIOR JOURNO)
Israeli scientists are on the cusp of developing the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus, according to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis. If all goes as planned, the vaccine could be ready within a few weeks and available in 90 days, according to a release.

“Congratulations to MIGAL [The Galilee Research Institute] on this exciting breakthrough,” Akunis said. “I am confident there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat,” Akunis said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

For the past four years, a team of MIGAL scientists has been developing a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which causes a bronchial disease affecting poultry. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been proven in preclinical trials carried out at the Veterinary Institute.

MIGAL is located in the Galilee.

“Our basic concept was to develop the technology and not specifically a vaccine for this kind or that kind of virus,” said Dr. Chen Katz, MIGAL’s biotechnology group leader. “The scientific framework for the vaccine is based on a new protein expression vector, which forms and secretes a chimeric soluble protein that delivers the viral antigen into mucosal tissues by self-activated endocytosis, causing the body to form antibodies against the virus.”

MIGAL laboratory (Photo Credit: Lior Journo)M

IGAL laboratory (Photo Credit: Lior Journo)

Endocytosis is a cellular process in which substances are brought into a cell by surrounding the material with cell membrane, forming a vesicle containing the ingested material.

In preclinical trials, the team demonstrated that the oral vaccination induces high levels of specific anti-IBV antibodies, Katz said.

“Let’s call it pure luck,” he said. “We decided to choose coronavirus as a model for our system just as a proof of concept for our technology.”

But after scientists sequenced the DNA of the novel coronavirus causing the current worldwide outbreak, the MIGAL researchers examined it and found that the poultry coronavirus has high genetic similarity to the human one, and that it uses the same infection mechanism, which increases the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short period of time, Katz said.

“All we need to do is adjust the system to the new sequence,” he said. “We are in the middle of this process, and hopefully in a few weeks we will have the vaccine in our hands. Yes, in a few weeks, if it all works, we would have a vaccine to prevent coronavirus.”

MIGAL would be responsible for developing the new vaccine, but it would then have to go through a regulatory process, including clinical trials and large-scale production, Katz said.

Akunis said he has instructed his ministry’s director-general to fast-track all approval processes with the goal of bringing the human vaccine to market as quickly as possible.

“Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development,” MIGAL CEO David Zigdon said. The vaccine could “achieve safety approval in 90 days,” he said.

It will be an oral vaccine, making it particularly accessible to the general public, Zigdon said.

“We are currently in intensive discussions with potential partners that can help accelerate the in-human trials phase and expedite completion of final-product development and regulatory activities,” he said.

 

Iranians burn clinic that may be quarantine for coronavirus patients 

March 1, 2020

Source: Iranians burn clinic that may be quarantine for coronavirus patients – The Jerusalem Post

Rumors claimed that 10 infected people were transported from Qom, a religious city that has been the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Iran, to the Towhid Clinic.

Iranian couple wearing protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran (photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
Iranian couple wearing protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran
(photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
A clinic in the city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran was torched on Friday due to suspicions that coronavirus patients from another city were quarantined in it, Al Arabiya reported Saturday.

Rumors claimed that 10 infected people were transported from Qom, a religious city that has been the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Iran, to the Towhid Clinic, according to Iranian social media posts.

Tore Rasmussen #boycottSAS@ToreRasmussen

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The Iranian Fars news agency dismissed the claims of infected patients from Qom were being treated in the clinic as “unfounded rumors,” saying that the rumors “angered” some residents, who torched the clinic. The clinic does have a special ward for coronavirus, but the director of public relations at the University of Hormozgan Medical Sciences, Fatima Norouzian, told Fars that rumors about patients being in the clinic are “just a lie,” according to Al Arabiya.
The BBC reported on Saturday that at least 210 people in Iran have died due to the coronavirus.

 

Israeli firm unveils kit to diagnose coronavirus, as 2nd team works on a vaccine

March 1, 2020

Source: Israeli firm unveils kit to diagnose coronavirus, as 2nd team works on a vaccine | The Times of Israel

Announcement of BATM kit comes as officials struggle to balance need for rapid testing and worries over false positives; science minister hails institute’s progress toward vaccine

A man gets tested for COVID-19 in Algiers, Algeria, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP/Anis Belghoul)

A man gets tested for COVID-19 in Algiers, Algeria, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP/Anis Belghoul)

An Israeli firm said Thursday it has developed a kit to test for the coronavirus, sending its stocks soaring as the world hunts for an effective way to confirm who is carrying the fast-spreading contagion.

Hod Hasharon based BATM said production on the quick diagnostic kit was underway at a facility in Rome owned by Adaltis, which manufactures various medical testing devices.

Health officials have urged the development of rapid testing devices to screen who may have the virus, as questions have arisen about current diagnostic tools’ ability to flag carriers. Health officials have also worried about overtesting and deluging health systems with false positives that will lead to public panic.

The debate over testing has taken on added urgency as the number of cases worldwide has climbed past 82,000, including over 2,800 reported deaths, with cases now present on every continent and dozens of countries.

BATM said in a statement that its test’s ability to successfully screen those carrying COVID-19 had been verified by several labs and hospitals, and that customers in several countries had expressed interest. It did not provide details.

It said the test met criteria set out by the US-based Centers of Disease Control and that it was working with European research institutions to develop “a price point suitable for large scale production.”

The company’s stock rose 16.4% on the London Stock Exchange and 9.3% in Tel Aviv’s boursa Thursday, making it one of the few winners on an otherwise brutal day on the trading floor.

Vaccine hopes

Separately, Israel’s state-funded Migal Galilee Research Institute said it had identified similarities between COVID-19 and Infectious Bronchitis Virus, which affects poultry, that could allow it to develop a vaccine to battle the deadly outbreak. It said it was working to quickly adapt its IBV vaccine for use against COVID-19.

Human trials have not yet been approved.

A lab worker at Migal in an undated photo released by the research institute. (Courtesy: Lior Journo)

“Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next 8-10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days,” Migal CEO David Zigdon said in a statement.

Science Minister Ofer Akunis hailed the team’s work as an “exciting breakthrough” and said he was confident there would be “further rapid progress.”

Several other firms are also racing to develop a vaccine against the virus based on older cures, with most public health officials estimating that it may take a year or more before one reaches the market, accounting for time to develop, test and produce the medicine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.