Israeli scientist granted US patent for coronavirus vaccine design

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Updated: Apr 19, 2020 10:35 PM

The vaccine is proposed by Professor Jonathan Gershoni of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology at the university's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences.

The patent has been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). (Reuters)

In a major breakthrough, an Israeli scientist at the Tel Aviv University has been granted a US patent for his innovative vaccine design for the corona family of viruses, a press statement by the varsity said on Sunday.
The patent has been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The vaccine is proposed by Professor Jonathan Gershoni of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology at the university’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. It targets the novel coronavirus’ Achilles’ heel, its Receptor Binding Motif (RBM), the most vulnerable point in a Coronavirus’ structure, a critical form that enables the virus to bind to and infect a target cell. The development of the vaccine could still take several months before it goes for clinical trials, it said.

“The vaccine would reconstruct the coronavirus’ RBM, a tiny feature of its spike protein. Though the virus uses many different proteins to replicate and invade cells, the spike protein is the major surface protein that it uses to bind to a receptor another protein that acts like a doorway into a human cell.

“After the spike protein binds to the human cell receptor, the viral membrane fuses with the human cell membrane, allowing the genome of the virus to enter human cells and begin infection,” Gershoni said in the statement.

Gershoni has been working on the coronaviruses for the last 15 years, developing a method of reconstructing and reconstituting the RBM feature of the spike protein in SARS CoV and subsequently in MERS CoV.

The moment the genome of the new virus was published in early January 2020, we began the process of reconstituting the RBM of SARS CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and expect to have a reconstituted RBM of the new virus soon,” he said. “This will be the basis for a new vaccine, which could be ready for use within a year to a year-and-a-half, he said.

Gershoni said that the discovery and production of a functional RBM for the new coronavirus is fundamental and critical for the production of the vaccine they propose. The novel coronavirus, that originated in China, has wreaked havoc in across the globe by infecting 2.3 million people and causing over 160,000 deaths.

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