First responders need to take special precautions to protect themselves from coronavirus
In the meantime, the 2019-nCoV outbreak has been under containment measures since at least a month, with the whole city sealed off and people traveling to certain areas being placed under quarantine. Due to the spread of infection beyond Chinese borders the WHO has declared this a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020. This is to pave the way for smoother sharing of information and public health efforts worldwide. To do this, the disease need not be called a pandemic.
And the WHO warns against sealing official routes across the borders, which only drives illegal crossings, and makes it much more difficult to screen those who cross for infection. Research and development – the solution
Simultaneously with public health and clinical efforts to contain and treat the infection, biotechnology companies are racing to find new diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive technologies specific for this virus. Diagnostic tests for 2019-nCoV are still far from perfect. Vaccines have not yet been developed. There’s plenty of work to do.
One area is in synthetic biology, where DNA is used as the means to engineer the entire biological world. Using DNA as the programming language, these scientists want to exploit the latest in automation, artificial intelligence and DNA sequencing cum editing, to build their own biological processes, and test them out. This could help them make food using nothing but the basic elements, use DNA’s incredible versatility to store the data of the entire world, make personalized medicines which will react to the individual patient, and make matter itself a smart substance.
Among them, some are working on a universal vaccine, which detects unique antigens on the cell surface of many different kinds of harmful microbes and then uses an antibody against the immutable or unchanging parts of these microbes to mount a broad-based immune response that takes care of any and all of these pathogens.
Early trials show the vaccine capable of reacting against all 39 strains of the influenza virus to hit the world over the last 100 years, including all the H1N1 strains . If validated, the technique will help create any antiviral vaccine rapidly and safely.
Another project is delivering neutralizing antibodies which will be made within the patient’s own cells rather than being supplied from outside. These researchers are aiming at epidemic-ready countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of any new virus.
Many other companies are collaborating to roll out vaccines against the virus, some with completed Phase I trials which indicate the safety of the vaccine candidate.
Other firms are working on synthesizing the genes of 2019-nCoV to push vaccine and therapeutics development forward. One also offers a qRT-PCR test that measures the amount of this virus in the sample, based on the detection of specific DNA strands. This test is being offered freely for research on the virus.
Yet another company has come up with a CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system that can rapidly diagnose the presence of 2019-nCoV within a maximum of 2 hours on an outpatient basis. This is expected to be available within weeks provided there are enough human samples on which to carry out the testing. They claim unsurpassed speed and accuracy for this test, which should make it a game-changer. Source:
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