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Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine

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Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine

Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine

Scientists in Singapore believe 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 team hope it can be an important step in fighting the pandemic.

Adam Reed reports.

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Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine

As scientists all over the world continue their quest to find a possible coronavirus vaccine, one lab in Singapore hopes it’s made an important discovery.

Researchers at Singapore's Duke-NUS Medical School said on Monday (March 23) they have developed a way to track genetic changes that accelerates testing of vaccines.

The team believe this sped up process can make a huge difference.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES PROGRAMME AT DUKE-NUS MEDICAL SCHOOL, OOI ENG EONG, SAYING: “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?" Coronavirus has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, but the swiftness of this assessment may allow the scientists to determine effectiveness and side effects of possible vaccines, instead of relying solely on responses from humans who receive it.

(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." 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.




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