MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Scientists in Wisconsin are working to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

Researchers with the University of Wisconsin – Madison are teaming with Madison-based company FluGen and Hyderabad, India-based Bharat Biotech.

The vaccine is called CoroFlu, it builds off an existing vaccine from FluGen called M2SR. M2SR is based off the invention of Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Gabriele Neumann, both Virologists with UW-Madison and co-founders of FluGen.

Kawaoka's lab will insert genetic sequences of the coronavirus into M2SR, if that works it would act as a vaccine for both the coronavirus and the flu.

“I think it's something to be excited about, this vaccine candidate and all of the vaccine candidates are things to really be excited about,” said Eric Hamilton, a spokesperson with the project for UW-Madison.

M2SR has already gone through clinical trials and has been proven to be safe for humans. However, that does not mean that CloroFlu can skip steps. Soon the vaccine will be tested on animal models at UW-Madison, that could take three to six months. Hamilton said they hope to get the vaccine to human clinical trials in the fall.

“The exact timeline from that point on is a little bit harder to say, but like other vaccine candidates you might be hearing about right now the expectation is that it would be at least a year before this is really available and it could be longer than that,” Hamilton said.

However, scientists on the project are optimistic about its safety because the base of the vaccine has gone through those trials.

“The fact that the flu vaccine candidate that this is based on has gone through clinical trials is a good reason to expect this to be safe,” Hamilton said.

Baharat Biotech will run the human trials at that point. The company can produce almost 300 million doses per year. It has commercialized 16 vaccines, including one for the H1N1flu that caused a pandemic in 2009.

"The core mission of Bharat Biotech is to apply innovative technologies in addressing the healthcare concerns of the developing world and to provide them with affordable, high quality vaccines and therapeutics," says Raches Ella, head of business development for the company in a press release. "Ninety percent of our vaccines are sold in lower middle-income countries with affordable pricing being core to our business model. We will fervently work toward the successful development of an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine."

The vaccine will have an intranasal delivery, meaning it will be administered through a person's nose rather than as a shot.

Several vaccines around the world are working towards preventing the coronavirus, including one in human trials. Hamilton said UW-Madison is positioned well to work on vaccines quickly like this because of the vaccine groundwork from Kawaoka and Neumann.

The international team is hoping their vaccine could help end the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fact is research takes time and testing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines does take time, but everybody in this project is going to work as quickly as possible to make this a reality if this idea is successful,” Hamilton said.



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