South Australian researchers target COVID-19 vaccine

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South Australian researchers have begun trialling a potential vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The team, headed by Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor at Flinders University and research director at South Australian Company, Vaxine Pty Ltd, are testing a vaccine candidate that has progressed to animal trials in the United States.

“The vaccine has progressed into animal testing in the U.S. and, once we confirm it is safe and effective, it will then be advanced into human trials,’’ says Petrovsky in a recent media release.

He said expectations shouldn’t be elevated until all testing is completed.

His team has tapped Oracle Cloud technology for collaboration, access to an expanded research community and cloud infrastructure that helped enable the rapid design of the novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

He said the latest cloud-based technology provided by Oracle enabled the team to “dramatically speed up our ability to analyse the COVID-19 virus and use this information to design the vaccine candidate’’.

“We used computer models of the spike protein and its human receptor, ACE2, to identify how the virus was infecting human cells, and then, we were able to design a vaccine to block this process,’’ Petrovsky said.

Results from the trial are expected within six to eight weeks, with human trials to follow within weeks if it is found to be safe and effective in animals.

If successful, Petrovksy is planning to have it ready for limited public use as early as August.

“If it does prove safe and effective, it could be allowed for emergency use in frontline workers such as doctors and nurses, or it could be approved for a much larger clinical trial in humans,’’ Petrovsky told News Corp Australia recently.

“We are not promising a vaccine in four months, but that is our timeline and that is the target we are shooting for.’’

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