3M awarded the Shumnis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University (TAU) with a $400,000 (NIS 1.36 million) research grant as part of the company's $5 million-initiative to invest in research programs to combat the coronavirus.Professor Johnathan Gershoni, who leads the project to find a vaccine against coronavirus at the university, explained how his work might lead to a potential vaccine:
"In order for the virus to successfully infect us and cause COVID- 19, it must first latch onto a unique protein ... a vaccine that exclusively targets the RBM (recepter-binding motif) should be extremely potent in affording maximal protection against SARS CoV2 by stimulating our immune system in the most efficient and cost-effective way."
The coronavirus has a unique way of attaching itself to human lung cells, particularity to a protein called ACE2 receptor, through its RBM, proteins that allow the virus to attach itself to human cells.However, if a vaccine that specifically works against the RBM binding mechanism it is likely to prevent infection.
The new grant will allow Gershoni to further deepen his research, as he and his team have already developed the necessary technology that enables experts to isolate the RBM.
"This grant from 3M will significantly enhance our efforts to produce a highly focused, potent and especially safe vaccine for COVID-19," added the TAU professor.