Thomas Jefferson University Research Magazine



A group of Jefferson viral vaccine researchers led by Jefferson Vaccine Center (JVC) director and professor of microbiology and immunology Matthias Schnell, PhD have been using rabies vaccine as a potent tool for understanding and fighting hemorrhagic viruses—such as Ebola, Marburg, Sudan and Lassa Feve—as well as coronavirus. By the end of 2019, the team had developed a tetravalent vaccine that uses an established dead-virus rabies vaccine modified with specific antigens for the viruses. In animal models, the immune system develops a reaction to the vaccine that is specific and can defend against rabies and some viruses. Soon after COVID-19 first emerged, Schnell and his team created a killed-rabies vaccine that incorporates the spike portion of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes the disease. The resulting COVID-19 vaccine candidate—CORAVAX™—was put into animal trials as a prelude to expected phase 1 clinical trials.