Australian scientists create lab-grown coronavirus in effort to develop vaccine and eventual cure (VIDEO)
Scientists in Australia have successfully grown the coronavirus from a patient sample which they will now distribute to other disease control experts with a view to speeding up development of a vaccine and, hopefully, a cure.
The team created the cell culture from a patient sample that arrived at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne on Friday, and this can now be replicated and distributed for more in-depth analysis around the world.
It will now be used as a control – or more specifically as an antibody test on asymptomatic patients – in Australian public health laboratories, as well as being shipped to experts working with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe. One of the main problems with containing the recent outbreak is that people can have – and pass on – the virus for up to a fortnight before showing symptoms.
The lab-grown coronavirus was dubbed “a major breakthrough” by Dr. Julian Druce, the institute’s virus-identification laboratory head, as it will allow for more accurate diagnosis around the world and afford scientists more insights to beat the disease.
While China did release the genome sequence of the virus, having an actual sample will allow researchers around the world to validate and verify their testing methods and thus improve diagnosis.
It will also allow researchers to determine the “true mortality rate” of the virus, says the Doherty Institute’s deputy director Dr. Mike Catton, while also helping with the development of trial vaccines. A team at the University of Queensland in Australia has been tasked with developing such a vaccine, and hopes to do so within six months.
Worldwide around 6,000 people have been infected with the virus which has so far killed at least 130 people in China.
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