Luis Alfonso Vaca Domínguez, leader of the vaccine project at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) of the Institute of Cellular Physiology.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is working on five vaccines to attack the disease caused by the SARS-COV-2 virus, one of them, the most advanced is developed with unique technology in the world through the Institute of Cellular Physiology (IFC).

Luis Alfonso Vaca Domínguez, leader of the research project, explained that it is a technology that they have developed for 20 years in the laboratory from UNAM and have tried other diseases.

« We generate a vaccine with nanoparticles the size of a virus, but it is not a virus. In fact, it does not infect the body, it only fools the immune system to make you believe that it is SARS-CoV-2 « .

FILE PHOTO. Illustration image of a woman holding a vial labeled « COVID-19 Vaccine » sticker and a medical syringe. April 10, 2020. . / Dado Ruvic

How does it work?

To create this technology, the university researcher developed particles that self-assemble and are the size of a virus. They decorate these particles with coronavirus proteins (as if it were a disguise) and upon entering the body, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign agent and produces antibodies to counteract it.

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« It is not actually the infectious microorganism, but an artificial virus that has the exact geometry and size of the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, He explained.

The nanovaccine is totally safe, it does not have any other component that could affect the human body and it does not have nucleic acids, that is, the genetic material of the real virus.

« This technology is completely puma, 100 percent Mexican and no one else can use it because we have the patent”Luis Alfonso Vaca Domínguez said in an interview.

A family has their temperature checked before entering the Frida Kahlo museum, on its first day of opening since it closed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Mexico City, Mexico. September 1, 2020. . / Carlos Jasso

So far they are working on five different types of vaccines. « We want to have a wide repertoire, we don’t want to bet on just one, but on several, since we don’t know which one is going to work.”.

Benefits

This vaccine has several benefits. The first is that it in no way infects a human organism, because it does not contain an attenuated virus as used in traditional formulas. In addition, this attenuated virus could at some point reverse itself and cause disease.

The second advantage is that no need refrigeration. Today any vaccine requires very low temperatures: this is known as the cold chain.

« From the moment it is produced and distributed in pharmacies until applied to the patient, it must be refrigerated and this raises its cost. »

Musicians wear face masks during a burial in the Xico cemetery in Valle de Chalco, State of Mexico Photo: . / Edgard Garrido

If the vaccine spends a few hours at room temperature it breaks down and loses its effect. It only lasts in refrigeration from three to five months, and when they expire they must be withdrawn from pharmacies.

“Our system is not like traditional vaccines, but it is very stable. In fact, we have kept our vaccines at room temperature for up to five or 10 years and the product is still very efficient. « 

The university nanovaccine handles a cost of distribution and storage approximately 70 percent cheaper than those used by pharmaceutical companies, he added.

This platform not only applies to coronavirus, it also works for other types of diseases, because they are artificial viruses. For example, for circoviruses and avian influenza.

Health sector workers practice the rapid test of Covid-19, in one of the new kiosks installed in Mexico City Photo: . / José Pazos

When will it be ready?

The production of a vaccine has several steps, from starting at the experimental level until it is distributed in pharmacies. In the process, you must obtain a sanitary registration and show that the vaccine is efficient and does not cause any harm.

Currently, UNAM is looking for resources to obtain health records quickly, since it has been a difficult process before some institutions.

Later, the scaling phase comes, that is, they can produce the vaccine on a larger scale and cover all Mexicans.

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