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Local researchers launch new study to find coronavirus vaccine

Researchers plan to study animals for next month in hopes of having a vaccine on the market in 12 to 18 months

SAN ANTONIO – Researchers at San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute have launched a new study in the hopes of creating a vaccine for COVID-19.

Scientists will focus on animal models to see what treatments and therapies are effective against the virus.

“We have one of seven national primate research centers with the greatest variety of nonhuman primates of any,” Texas Biomed President and CEO, Dr. Larry Schlesinger, said. “This is really important, because in establishing an animal model, what might need to try as we’re doing now, multiple species to try to find out which is the best model to help us tested therapies in vaccines as they come to market.”

Scientists plan to conduct the study over the next four weeks then get the work publish for peer review. After that, clinical trials are needed before it can be presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.

“We can’t prematurely be putting these things in humans and causing more harm. That’s not really our purpose,” Schlesinger said. “We really want to do it safely, but as quickly as possible.”

Schlesinger added that the bigger challenge for scientists is getting ahead.

“I think this is really where the rubber hits the road,” Schlesinger said. “It’s when this dies down, whether we can now convert to a sustainable scientific and clinical market to help companies with incentives so that we bring these drugs of vaccines to market and we’re ready for the next outbreak.”

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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