Pulse 189: What Is Chinese Vaccine BBIBP-CorV?

2 February 2021
Giulio Prisco
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Chinese Vaccine

Many people all over the world are likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine BBIBP-CorV, developed by the Chinese state-owned biopharmaceutical company Sinopharm. Many countries have approved the vaccine and announced plans to deploy it.

For example Hungary, the country where I live, became the European Union’s first member to approve China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. And Hungary sealed a deal for 5 million doses, Reuters reports. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that he would personally opt to receive the Chinese vaccine, as he trusted it more than others.

BBIBP-CorV is based on inactivated coronaviruses. This is an approach that has been used for over a century. And it works by teaching the immune system to make antibodies against the coronavirus, explains The New York Times.

There was a limited clinical trial “aimed to assess the safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine candidate, BBIBP-CorV, in humans.” The preliminary results were published in The Lancet in October 2020. And they are encouraging.

A press release issued by the journal states that the study detected antibody responses in all recipients by day 42 after vaccination. And it provides some data for participants aged over 60 years. The vaccine was safe and well tolerated at all tested doses, with no severe adverse reactions reported.

More recently in December, the health ministry of the United Arab Emirates stated that the vaccine has 86 percent efficac. They cited an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials yet to be published, Reuters reports.

Chromosome Anomaly Is a Cancer Vulnerability

An abnormal number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) is a unique characteristic of cancer cells that researchers have known about for decades. Scientists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have shown how that could become a weak point for cancer cells. Approximately 90 percent of solid tumors, such as breast cancer and colon cancer, and 75 percent of blood cancers are aneuploid in nature.

A study is published in Nature. It shows that aneuploid cancer cells demonstrate heightened sensitivity to damage to a critical cellular mechanism that ensures the proper separation of chromosomes during cell division. The study also reveals the molecular basis for the heightened sensitivity of aneuploid cancer cells.

The scientists are persuaded that their research could lead to the development of future drugs that will use this vulnerability to eliminate cancer cells.

Smartphone App for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have invented a smartphone-controlled soft brain implant that can be recharged wirelessly from outside the body. It is described in a study published in Nature Communications.

The implant enables long-term neural circuit manipulation without the need for periodic disruptive surgeries to replace a battery. It has been used to suppress cocaine-induced behavior in laboratory rats by delivering light stimulation into the brain, controlled with the smartphone app.

The researchers believe this technology can help uncover and treat psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. They may include addiction, depression, and Parkinson's.

3D-Printing for Bone Reconstruction 

Scientists at University of New South Wales Sydney have developed a ceramic-based ink. It may allow surgeons in the future to 3D-print bone parts, complete with living cells that could be used to repair damaged bone tissue.

Using a 3D-printer that deploys a special ink made up of calcium phosphate, the scientists developed a new technique. It is known as ceramic omnidirectional bioprinting in cell-suspensions (COBICS). And it is described in a research paper published in Advanced Functional Materials.

The new technique enables printing of bone-like structures that harden in a matter of minutes when placed in water. Potential applications include creation of bone in the lab for disease modeling, use as a bioactive material for dental restoration, and direct bone reconstruction in a patient.

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