22 February 2020
Sydney: A team of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia has created their first vaccine candidate in the laboratory for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The team will move immediately into further development before formal pre-clinical testing, the university said on Friday.
The proof-of-concept milestone comes in less than a month after the project's announcement on January 24 as part of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) rapid response programme.
"There is still extensive testing to ensure that the vaccine candidate is safe and creates an effective immune response, but the technology and the dedication of these researchers means the first hurdle has been passed," said University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President Peter Hoj AC.
The work in the lab shows the feasibility of using the university's "molecular clamp" technology to engineer a vaccine candidate that could be more readily recognised by the immune system, triggering a protective immune response.
The next stage is to produce this on a larger scale needed for additional testing, to determine its effectiveness against the virus.
Researchers said the early research had gone "as expected" and the material created had the properties which allowed the team to proceed with vaccine development.