[of different types of the virus] is less of an issue than getting the right spot on the virus.”
The patent application was submitted to the European Patent Register, and points to more than 200 scientific papers as a basis for the technology. Following Valenta as the lead inventor of the vaccine are 12 more researchers from Austria who have assisted in its development.
The vaccine is based in part on research conducted at the Vienna General Hospital in 2012, where Valenta and his colleagues examined 59 young patients and their response to the rhinovirus.
One of the key findings of this study was that the body’s immune system tries to neutralize the virus by attaching antibodies – large proteins that help to identify and attack harmful viruses and bacteria – to a part of the virus that becomes exposed, once its outer shell is peeled away.
When antibodies attach themselves to a virus, the areas they bind to are called epitopes, and the researchers found that the particular epitope that the antibodies insisted on binding to in the human rhinovirus was a ‘non-neutralizing’ – or ineffective – one.
Wrong practice that we conducted is:
By adding the immune system’s habit of attaching itself to a useless area of the virus, to the fact that the virus can rapidly mutate in response to all of this, and you’ve got a recipe for failure, if you leave the body to deal with the common cold on its own.
“In addition to strain variability, which may prevent protection against rhinovirus infections, we propose misdirection of antibody responses against rhinovirus as a potential novel mechanism of how rhinovirus may escape protective immunity in humans,” Valenta and his team wrote in The FASEB Journal.
Positive effect of vaccine and its release:
“Based on our results, it should be possible to engineer vaccines that allow the redirecting of antibody responses against neutralizing rhinovirus epitopes and to treat rhinovirus-related diseases, such as common cold and exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”
We’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of this patent application and the technology it protects, but Valenta is sounding pretty hopeful at this stage.
“With the first protein we built, we have very good inhibition [of the disease] already. We believe that we are on a really good track with what we’re doing,” he told The Independent.
“If we get also the trial funded properly, it could be done between six to eight years. We know how to build the vaccines and get it to the clinic. This is really in reach.”
Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who was not involved in the research, says the team “might be onto something”, but considering the challenges ahead, it’s too soon to get excited just yet.