The technology used against the coronavirus will be used for a plague vaccine

The technology used against the coronavirus will be used for a plague vaccine

Using the same platform used for the Covid-19 vaccine, the University of Oxford has announced the launch of a trial for a plague vaccine

(Photo: Mufid Majnun on Unsplash) Reminds you of something the abbreviation ChAdOx1? It is the name of the viral platform used for the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed together with the University of Oxford, against the coronavirus. A very similar technology will now be used to study a vaccine against the plague, a disease of bacterial origin that has never been completely eradicated. Only a year ago, in fact, we were talking about the cases of bubonic plague reported in Mongolia. But the phenomenon, although limited compared to other health problems, is much more extensive and persists in various areas of the world, especially in some areas of Africa and Asia. Over three thousand cases were reported between 2010 and 2015 and more than 500 victims, they cite from Oxford, to remind us that the plague is anything but a relegated past problem.

Plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Depending on the manifestations of the disease and the mode of transmission, three different types are identified (bubonic, pulmonary and septicemic, not strictly separated, recalls the Higher Institute of Health). The disease can be treated with antibiotics (otherwise the fatality rates are very high) but having preventive tools such as a vaccine would be of great help, especially for hard-to-reach areas, explained Christine Rollier, associate professor of vaccinology at the Oxford Vaccine Group. It is with this intention that a phase I trial was launched for a plague vaccine, aimed therefore at testing the safety of the product but also at evaluating the immune responses in the volunteers who will be enrolled (the program is to include about forty, of aged between 18 and 55 years).

The construction and operating principle of the vaccine candidate (traditionally intramuscular) are quite similar to that used in the fight against Covid. ChAdOx1 is a viral vector, specifically a weakened version of an adenovirus from chimpanzees, unable to replicate in humans. Genes encoding proteins of the plague bacterium (F1 and V antigens) have been inserted on this platform. With the same principle of the product against the coronavirus once in the host the production of these antigens will theoretically prepare an immune response useful to fight the bacterium and the infection in case of exposure (here all the details of the experimentation). >

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