Israeli researchers make breakthrough in development of coronavirus vaccine

February 28, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israeli researchers at MIGAL Institute have developed an effective vaccine against avian Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) and are adapting it to create a human vaccine against Coronavirus (COVID-19), which is rapidly spreading around the globe.

Infographic of the Coronavirus. Feb 22, 2020. Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

After four years of multi-disciplinary research funded by Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture, the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute has achieved a scientific breakthrough that will lead to the rapid creation of a vaccine against Coronavirus in the coming weeks.

This discovery was identified as a by-product of MIGAL’s development of a vaccine against IBV, a disease affecting poultry, which effectiveness has been proven in pre-clinical trials carried out at the Veterinary Institute.

MIGAL has made required genetic adjustments to adapt the vaccine to COVID-19, the human strain of Coronavirus, and is working to achieve the safety approvals that will enable preclinical testing, enable the initiation of production of a vaccine to counter the Coronavirus epidemic.

Research conducted at MIGAL has revealed that the poultry Coronavirus has high genetic similarity to the human COVID-19 and that it uses the same infection mechanism, a fact that increases the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short time.

Commenting on the news, David Zigdon, CEO of MIGAL, said that “given the urgent global need for a human Coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development. Our goal is to produce the vaccine during the next 8-10 weeks, and to achieve safety approval in 90 days.”

The vaccine will be oral, making it particularly accessible to the general public.

Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis congratulated MIGAL “on this exciting breakthrough. I am confident that there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat.”

He has instructed the Director-General of the Ministry of Science and Technology to fast-track all approval processes with the goal of bringing the human vaccine to market as quickly as possible.

A few cases of Corona have been sighted in Israel, mostly Israelis returning from the east, and possibly some who have come in contact with tourists from South Korea who were already ill with the virus, but there has yet to be a widespread outbreak in the country.

The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 48 countries around the world.

China’s National Health Commission stated that at least 82,200 cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, including at least 2,800 deaths. Some 33,300 have recovered.

The MIGAL Galilee Research Institute is a regional Research and Development centre of the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry owned by the Galilee Development Company Ltd.

In 2019, Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology provided MIGAL with NIS 30 million to fund its research, covering approximately 50% of its budget.

MIGAL is an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary applied research institute that specializes in biotechnology and computer sciences, plant science, precision

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