TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Could the answer to fighting the deadly coronavirus be in Arizona? Arizona's Family learned on Tuesday that three Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researchers are working together in search of a vaccine to prevent the virus.
The three researchers include Dr. Brenda Hogue, Qiang "Shawn" Chen and Bert Jacobs. They will bring their own approach, create several vaccines and test them to see which ones will work. Hogue is the most experienced and will lead the group. She has dedicated her 30-year career to studying coronaviruses. Her strategy involves using mammal cells, like from monkeys.
Chen's strategy involves tobacco plants, and Jacobs’ involves pox cells.
"We don't know what will work, at this point," said Hogue. "We like to solve problems, as scientists, and it's certainly important with what's happening now-- with the spread of the virus in China. If it continues to spread and becomes more of a global problem than it is at this time, we will need effective strategies of dealing with the virus, and a vaccine is a very good way to deal with future spread of the virus."
The answer won't come overnight. Hogue is still writing grants to make sure this research is properly funded. "It takes, normally, years for a vaccine to be developed and go through all the safety trials that are required and to show that it's an effective vaccine that can be used in humans," she said.
Right now, the three researchers are waiting on several coronovirus genes to arrive at the lab. Hogue expects it to arrive as early as next week, but it could take up to a month to really get to work. She estimates if all goes smoothly, the earliest she could get to the testing period is the end of summer and the earliest we could see an approved vaccine to hit the market is five years.
"The genes that we will receive are not in any way infectious by themselves or even as we will use them for the platforms that we are working with," explained Hogue.
Hogue says it’s not a competitive race against other scientists to be the first to come up with the vaccine. Instead, it’s a race for everyone to come up with a solution to help stop the deadly coronavirus outbreak. "We know that it's important that a vaccine be developed against the coronavirus, and a large number of teams around the world are working on this as well," she said.