Liên hiệp các hội và khoa học kỹ thuật Việt Nam
2021-08-30 08:47

Scientists and technologists joining in concerted efforts to stop pandemics widespread

The conference taking place

Ha Noi, July 14, 2021, the VUSTA held a hybrid conference with the theme “Scientists and technologists in combating the Covid-19 pandemic”. The conference was chaired by H.E. Dr. Phan Xuan Dung – VUSTA President and Dr. Nguyen Thi Xuyen, the President of the Vietnam Medical Association.

VUSTA President Phan Xuan Dung delivering opening speech

In his opening speech, Dr. Phan Xuan Dung said that since the beginning of the pandemic, in addition to the silent sacrifices made by our doctors, Vietnamese scientists have also been working closely with the government, monitoring the situation in order to study and apply science and technology, through which they can propose appropriate, effective solutions to controlling the spread to the authorities.

Many products of the work of domestic scientists are either already or about to go through experimental deployment. In particular, VUSTA scientists are also contributing in researching and applying Covid-19 prevention products, such as Nanomedicine Institute in special supplementary drugs to combat Covid-19; VinIT Technology Institute in developing a disinfection system using Plasma technology to combat Covid-19; Light Community Health Development Institute in deploying their social security relief packages to affected individuals…

Applying science and technology in SAR-COVI-2 treatment and prevention

According to Prof. Nguyen Van Kinh, President of Vietnamese Society of Infectious Disease, many scientific and technological applications are already in place in combating the pandemic, such as Studying the origin and experimental testing: Culturing, Genome sequencing, PCR kit development, fast testing for diagnosis; Studying preventive measures like early interception and discovery (large scale testing), contact tracing, quarantine, spread prevention; Studying Nano mask and disinfectant manufacturing, 5K; Studying Vaccine manufacturing; Studying treatment: Constructing treatment regimens, building ventilators, testing GCP medicine, Robots for treatment, ECMO, Oxiris filters, monoclonal antibodies…

Prof. Nguyen Van Kinh, President of Vietnam Society of Infectious Disease

However, according to Prof. Kinh, the complications of the pandemic and the forever mutating nature of the virus call for a double strategy on disease prevention and economic development.

Effective Covid-19 prevention also calls for close monitoring of the virus situation to deploy countermeasures; Increasing scientific research subjects and emphasizing the roles of scientists in combating COVID-19; Increasing global cooperation in combating COVID-19.

The demand for COVID-19 vaccines around the world as well as in Vietnam is still significant due to the probability of a prolonged pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the effective duration of current vaccines. Therefore, it is vital that there are sufficient doses for the following years. Moreover, research must go on to create and finalize the next generation of COVID-19 prevention vaccines based on existing technologies at the Institute of Biotechnology, as well as core technologies being developed around the globe like reverse genetics, recombinant proteins, mass producing pure virus antigens on plant-based systems.

Mastering vaccine manufacturing background technology

According to Dr. Do Minh Si, Director of Nanogen Pharma R&D in HCM City, there are currently 4 vaccine manufacturing technology: inactivated vaccine, nucleic acid vaccine, viral vector vaccine and subunit vaccine. Nanogen chose subunit vaccine as they have mastered the technology for 10 years. Besides, Nanogen utilizes artificial intelligences with support from cutting-edge robots to aid in researching biotechnology.

Prof. Nguyen Duc Nghia, Director of Nanomedicine Institute

As for the opinion of Prof. Nguyen Duc Nghia, Nanomedicine Institute Director, Nanomedicine and its ingredients can play an important role in different phases of COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis, treatment, vaccination and research. Nano-based antibacterial technology can be implemented into personal devices to ensure the safety of medical staff and people in general. Other nanomaterials such as quantum dots can be used as biosensors to diagnose COVID-19. Nanotechnology brings the benefits of nano systems such as liposome, polymer and lipid nanoparticles, metallic nanoparticles and micelle, for use in medicine packaging and improving pharmacological characteristics of medicine. Antivirus functions of nanoparticles can target the binding, intrusion, cloning and growing of COVID-19. Inorganic nanoparticles and their toxicity, which is one of the factors leading to their limited use, require additional research and modification. Nanomedicine has proved its worth through its application in medicine distribution and nano sensors in other diseases. To achieve such feats here, first we have to examine the pathology of COVID-19 in order to discover loopholes in its pathophysiology, to which nanomedicine can be applied.

According to Dr. Nguyen Trung Nam, Vice President of Institute of Biotechnology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology vaccine research and development for new viruses is the greatest challenge for researchers because of the sudden nature of the plague. Therefore, the Institute of Biotechnology has mastered the technology necessary to create vital antigens capable of stimulating immune responses, defending against the disease. They were successful in creating high immunity trimeric and oligomeric spike proteins capable of producing the antigen for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus from plants (member of the Coronaviridae family, the same family of severe acute respiratory syndrome virus as SARS-CoV2). Using the same approach, Institute of Biotechnology scientists have succeeded in demonstrating the natural structure of the S1 gene region and the RNA binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV2 virus. They are currently studying Virus-Like Particle (VLP) vaccines and evaluate their ability to stimulate immune response on lab animals.

A delegate speaking at the conference

 In order to improve the immune system’s response to the frequent and continuous attacks from new strains of viruses, nanoparticles are already and continue to provide a revolutionary step towards manufacturing next generation vaccines- nanovaccine. The application of nanotechnology in developing vaccines is based on the fact that most pathogens are nano-sized, which makes nanovaccines more easily identified and handled by the immune system. Protein antigens become more durable and stable when bound to nanoparticles, both in vitro and in vivo. The Institute of Biotechnology was extremely successful in using nanodiamonds (NDs) as carriers for their subunit H7N9 vaccine. Evaluation of the antigen before and after binding to NDs showed that binding to NDs resulted in a 500 times increase in hemagglutination. When injected into lab mice, NDs demonstrated its effectiveness by producing 8 times the HA/H7N9 antibodies compared to not using NDs. As such, NDs are a nanomaterial that can bolster the effectiveness and the immune response of protein subunit antigens.

The Institute of Biotechnology has implemented reverse genetics technology in creating the original A/H5N1 virus strain to create a vaccine. Its research team is also successful in creating the virus strain to create a vaccine using reverse genetics, resulting in original A/H5N1 IBTRG-01 (clade 1.1) and IBTRG-02 (clade virus strains. This result has been published on Vaccines magazine. Reverse genetics has also been used by scientists around the world to study the SARS-CoV2 virus, with outstanding results being published on top science magazines like Nature and Cell. These results explore the infecting mechanism of the virus inside the respiratory system, contributing to learning about the interaction between the virus and the host, from which better solutions to preventing and treating Covid-19 can be devised.


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