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L-R: UQ's Professor Paul Young, Dr Keith Chappell and Dr Dan Watterson. Photo: UQ

UQ developing vaccine to contain coronavirus outbreak

The University of Queensland has been asked to use new technology it has developed to quickly create a vaccine for the recent coronavirus outbreak.

The request came from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global alliance that coordinates the development of vaccines in the fight against infectious diseases.

The goal is to make the vaccine available worldwide in as little as six months.

The key to the rapid development of the potential vaccine lies in new ‘molecular clamp’ technology created by UQ scientists in partnership with CEPI, said Dr Keith Chappell from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

"The University of Queensland's molecular clamp technology provides stability to the viral protein that is the primary target for our immune defence," he said.

"The technology has been designed as a platform approach to generate vaccines against a range of human and animal viruses and has shown promising results in the laboratory targeting viruses such as influenza, Ebola, Nipah and MERS coronavirus."

Head of UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, professor Paul Young, said the team hopes to use its ‘novel’ technology to develop a vaccine over the next six months, which may help to contain the outbreak.

"The vaccine would be distributed to first responders, helping to contain the virus from spreading around the world," he said.

UQ Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj AC, said the fluid nature of the current outbreak was a significant challenge to the international community.

"There is a lot that is still unknown regarding how easily the virus is able to be transmitted between humans," he said.

"Working with CEPI, The University of Queensland is using its vaccine technology to respond to this global health challenge."

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