A Malaysian-born immunologist, Prof Suresh Mahalingam is leading a team of 13 researchers from an Australian university in an effort to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.
Meet Prof Suresh Mahalingam, 51-year-old immunologist
Prof Suresh Mahalingam, 51, who is an immunologist is working together with Griffith University to develop a vaccine that would be “live-attenuated” – meaning, the vaccine is expected to be highly effective as it would provide a strong cellular and antibody immune responses against the virus.
“It will mimic the infection of the real virus but cannot cause disease.
“And what’s really fantastic about this vaccine is that it can induce all arms of the immune response, ” he said.
Prof Suresh has been in Australia for 26 years
He said the other benefits of a live-attenuated vaccine was a proven record for economical large-scale manufacturing and a well-known regulatory approval pathway.
Currently, the team that he’s leading are at the pre-clinical stage (cell culture and animal testing) and are aiming to complete this within the next few months.
“We hope to commence human trials as soon as possible.
Prof Suresh said if approved, the vaccine may reach the market sometime in late 2021 adding that the team of 13 staff and students was working tirelessly on the vaccine development.
The team has signed an agreement with a international vaccine pharmaceutical company, Indian Immunologicals (IIL), to develop the vaccine
According to Prof Suresh, the biggest challenge when developing a vaccine was trying to identify the best approach to take – such as a live-attenuated vaccine, killed vaccine or sub-unit protein expression vaccine.
“One method of vaccine production doesn’t necessarily work for all types of diseases.
“It’s important to consider the endpoint of a vaccine when embarking on such an endeavour. Many vaccines do not make it to final production due to the approach taken, ” he said.
Previously, his lab also developed and patented novel vaccines for chikungunya and Zika viruses.
All these vaccines were being developed in collaboration with major international pharmaceutical companies, who were expected to submit the application for conducting clinical trials in due course.
“I am passionate about giving back to the scientific community and get enormous satisfaction from the scientific process of developing a vaccine for Covid-19.”
He also stressed the importance of vaccines and ensuring there was adequate vaccination within the population And it was probably the most important thing everyone could learn from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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