- Title: Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine
- Date: 24th March 2020
- Summary: SINGAPORE (MARCH 23, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RESEARCHER DEMONSTRATING WORK IN LAB DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SPEAKING WITH REPORTER BADGE ON OOI'S LAB COAT READING (English): "DUKE NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL" (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: "And likewise, instead of waiting six months to see whether a vaccine works, in three to five days, we will know whether it works, whether it triggers the right genes to be turned on and which ones to be turned off, that will lead to developing a good immune response, right? And so, by using a molecular approach to measuring these outcomes, whether than waiting and seeing whether these happen clinically, then we shorten the process from what would otherwise takes six months, down to a few days. So, by doing so, we hope that with Arcturus's technology, and what we have learned about vaccines by combining our respective strengths, we will be able to, you know, bring a vaccine to the Singapore population and perhaps the rest of the world in as short a time as possible." VARIOUS OF RESEARCHER DEMONSTRATING WORK IN LAB (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: "So, what this vaccine is, therefore, is that it's a part of that virus. It's not the whole thing. So, we only do that part of the genetic material of the virus necessary to educate our immune system to recognise the virus the next time it sees it. Right? So, it's a little bit like showing someone a mugshot of a wanted person and saying, 'Recognise this? Because the next you see this person, you need to react, right?'" OOI SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: "You know, there are still several hurdles to jump through. We need to show that everything is safe in the sense that the product quality is good, and that when it elicits the right safety signatures and the pre-clinical animal models and all that. The timeline, whilst we can aim to get into humans (trial) at a specific time, but we also have to work with health authorities and health regulators to make sure that they are also agreeable and that the product is safe enough to get into clinical trials. Our hope is that, you know, in the second half of this year we'll be in clinical trial." TEST TUBES ON COUNTER/ OOI'S HAND GESTICULATING (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: "I mean, back in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, we didn't have the kind of tools, the molecular methods that we have today. You know, we can sequence the full genome of the virus literally overnight, whereas at that time, we could only do a part of it, and we were proud that we could do a fragment of it, and now we can do a lot of things that we could not do back in 2003, so we have a real chance at making a difference, and I think that's what we're all striving towards." OOI SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: "If you don't do anything, you know, somewhere between one to two percent of people will die from COVID-19. Now if you can prevent that, the benefit is tremendous, right. So, in a way, this rapid translation, everyone's racing ahead, but we're kind of writing the playbook as the game is being played. So, you know, so it will be interesting to see the developments in the coming months." SINGAPORE (MARCH 24, 2020) (REUTERS) TWO WOMEN WEARING SURGICAL MASKS WALKING IN FRONT OF EXTERIOR OF DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL CAMPUS/TRAFFIC DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL LOGO AND SIGN ON OVERPASS READING (English): "DEFINING TOMORROW'S MEDICINE"
- Keywords: COVID-19 Duke-NUS Medical School Ooi Eng Eong Singapore coronavirus pharmaceuticals testing vaccine development
- Reuters ID: LVA001C6ESZEV
- Location: SINGAPORE
- City: SINGAPORE
- Country: Singapore
- Duration: 00:04:13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: Scientists in Singapore said on Monday (March 23) they have developed a way to track genetic changes that accelerates testing of vaccines against a coronavirus that has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide.
The scientists, at the city-state's Duke-NUS Medical School, said their technique needs just days to evaluate potential vaccines provided by Arcturus Therapeutics, an American biotech firm the school has partnered with for the trials.
That timeframe compares with the months usually required for testing based on human responses.
"You can know from the way the genes change - what genes are turned on, what are turned off," Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the school's emerging infectious diseases programme, told Reuters on Monday.
Swift assessment of such changes triggered by a vaccine allows the scientists to determine its effectiveness and side effects, instead of relying solely on responses from humans who receive it, he added.
Currently, there are no approved medicines or preventive vaccines targeting the virus, with most patients receiving only supportive care, such as help with their breathing. Experts have said getting a vaccine ready could take a year or more.
Ooi said he planned to start testing vaccines in mice in about a week, with human trials expected in the second half of the year.
Pharmaceutical firms and researchers around the globe are racing to develop vaccines and treatments for the virus, which has infected more than 377,000 people.
(Production: Joseph Campbell)
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