A team at Amsterdam UMC is using vaccines developed in 1927 to try to coax the human immune system into attacking the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

According to the medical center, the new vaccine is aimed at producing antibodies which attach to protein protrusions, or spikes, present on each individual virion. In this way, the researchers hope to prevent the coronavirus from entering into body cells and multiplying.

"We know that the body makes antibodies against the coronavirus, but they work poorly or only at a late stage. That is why we make the immune system angry against molecules that are normally not or hardly recognized," explained the project's leader Arjan Griffioen.

The research team, which is working in collaboration with biotech firm CimCure, aim for the vaccine to be ready for animal testing within five to six months. If all goes well, trials will then be able to move to include humans, the researchers said.

"If we make good use of existing knowledge about the SARS and MERS virus, we may be able to make a generic vaccine. That vaccine then targets several parts of the spike protein and hopefully that will also protect us against a new outbreak of another corona virus," said Griffioen.