Virologists from the Centre for Research in Animal Health at the Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA) in Catalonia are participating in one of the first molecular studies to design a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
The IRTA research team has already begun working together with scientists from the Galveston National Laboratory and the University of Texas Medical Center to expand information on the origin and evolution of the disease, the IRTA said in a statement on Tuesday.
In this study, researchers have identified the specific region of the S protein, which is part of the envelope of all coronaviruses, and which would be key to making a coronavirus vaccine.
IRTA researcher and veterinarian Julia Vergara-Alert explained that the next step is to test the efficacy of these molecules in the laboratory, to see if they would be good candidates for making a vaccine. "Once made, it should be tested in animal models," she said.
For now, the scientists have not been able to confirm whether the origin of the new coronavirus is animal, but the study's predictions point to chickens and civets as the most likely suspects among all the species available in the genome databases.
Joaquim Segalés, IRTA researcher and professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, said that "to be certain, it will be necessary to verify this experiment, although it cannot be ruled out that there may be other animal species potentially susceptible to the new virus".