New tool could speed treatment in next pandemic- study

University of Virginia School of Medicine scientists, with collaborators in China and Poland, have created a powerful new tool to speed up the creation of vaccines and treatments for future pandemics.

 Magen David worker take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test from Israelis, at a Magen David Adom testing center in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2021.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Magen David worker take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test from Israelis, at a Magen David Adom testing center in Jerusalem, on September 26, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

While nobody could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak, an international team of scientists are staying one step ahead of the next pandemic. 

University of Virginia School (UVA) of Medicine scientists, with collaborators in China and Poland, have created a powerful new tool to speed vaccines and treatment for future pandemics. 

The new tool, called virusMED, in the form of an internet database, maps out everything known about atomic structure and potential vulnerabilities of more than 800 virus strains from 75 different virus families, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, Ebola and HIV‑1, according to UVA.  

The database would provide critical information about the virus to scientists in one easy-to-access location so that they can quickly develop safe vaccines. Previously, data has not been so accessible. 

UVA researcher Wladek Minor said that although the COVID-19 battle is not over, it's never too early to start preparing for the next pandemic. 

A WOMAN RECEIVES her third anti-COVID vaccination at a Clalit Health Fund center in Jerusalem.MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POSTA WOMAN RECEIVES her third anti-COVID vaccination at a Clalit Health Fund center in Jerusalem.MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST

"VirusMED is a step towards an advanced information system that brings together researchers with diverse expertise to tackle complex biomedical challenges,” he continued. “The information contained in virusMED will help viral researchers from many disciplines, especially those working on drug design or anti-viral therapies. We provide novel structural analysis and integrate pertinent information from various resources to provide a comprehensive picture of the proteins’ most important and vulnerable regions.”

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal IUCr Journal.