Scientists create software to help develop coronavirus vaccine

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: March 2, 2020 3:01:40 pm

New cases of novel coronavirus are still being reported. (Source: Reuters)

Busting myths about novel coronavirus, World Health Organisation (WHO) had specified the need for a new vaccine for the infection, as existing vaccines cannot provide the required protection. And now, a team of researchers have created a software that is being deemed a “critical breakthrough” in the search for vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

According to the official website of the University of Toronto, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and US National Institutes of Health created the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells, known as spike protein. The findings have been based on a software spun out of University of Toronto researcher Ali Punjani’s research called cryoSPARC to process the data related to coronavirus spike protein and obtain accurate 3D images of the spike in real time.

“We can actually look at a new disease that was discovered just a couple of months ago and see how it works at the molecular level. It’s very exciting,” Punjani was quoted as saying.

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Jason McLellan, associate professor in molecular biosciences at UT Austin and co-author, said the software also facilitated data processing while travelling. In fact, it took only 12 days for the researchers to produce an atomic map from the raw sample.

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“One of their novel algorithms, referred to as 3D Variability Analysis, provided insights into the dynamic motions of the coronavirus spike protein that are important for receptor-binding and membrane fusion,” McLellan said in a statement.

According to researchers, cryoSPARC makes use of a technique called cryogenic electron microscopy or cryo-EM. This allows scientists to obtain high-resolution images of proteins by shooting electrons at frozen samples, followed by accurate 3D visualisation facilitated by cryoSPARC. And scientists believe their work will help in vaccine development.

The study was published in the journal Science.

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