Researchers at Concordia University are making “good progress” on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, and it’s all being done from the comfort of home rather than conducting it all in a lab.
According to a Concordia University news release shared with Daily Hive, the researchers are using state-of-the-art computer simulations and artificial intelligence to model potential vaccines that can be tested quickly.
Concordia researchers are applying reverse vaccinology – a scientific method that uses bioinformatics and genome sequencing to break down the virus’s structural information – to come up with different options for a cost-effective, universal vaccine.
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“Because our research enables us to deconstruct the virus using genetic modeling, we’re able to develop a vaccine that will have a long-lasting immune response independent of one’s age, gender or background,” said Gilles Peslherbe, a Concordia University professor and Director of the university’s Centre for Research in Molecular Modeling (CERMM), who is overseeing the Canadian side of the project.
Working with Peslherbe are two Indian researchers from Henan University of Technology in China. They arrived in Montreal in late December as part of a 24-week Mitacs internship that has international students and junior scholars working alongside local researchers to foster global research links.
All researchers have regular virtual meetings with each other, collaborating on the project with international partners at Henan University of Technology and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong.
The Canadian group is in the process of optimizing its top vaccine solution through computational research, and the partners in China are gearing up for animal clinical trials of the vaccine at their labs to begin later this summer.
“We have been able to progress so quickly because the interns and partners bring unique expertise that has enabled our research to propel forward,” added Peslherbe.
Peslherbe says the vaccine could be available in early 2021 if everything goes according to plan.