Vault cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein or more commonly referred to as just "vaults" are natural components of our cells responsible for vital functions of a cell's regulation.

Since the 1990s when the link between vaults and cancerous cells was first discovered, we're still understanding how the nanoparticle structures could be used to treat cancer.

Vaults are still undergoing research to understand everything they do. So far, we know they are used to communicate with other cells, resist drugs, and serve immune functions to name a few.

C. Todd French, assistant professor of biology and leader of the new COVID-19 Testing Service Center (CTSC) at Northern Arizona University is leveraging the science in the hopes of developing an advanced vaccine against the novel coronavirus. This vaccine, developed with Vault Pharma and a partnership with UCLA and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln may not only protect against the virus but actually treat it as well.

French: "Vaults are unique, hollow, natural protein nanoparticles named for their barrel-like structure....They have tremendous potential as a vaccine delivery platform when loaded with vaccine antigens. I’ve been a proponent of the vault vaccine platform for a long time, and I’m excited that UCLA and Vault Pharma want to work with us at NAU."

Prof. C. Todd French. Used with Permission, Credit Northern Arizona University

Vault Pharma is a biotechnology company specializing in the synthesis of these microscopic nanoparticle vaults. The vault approach allows cells to internalize the structures, carrying antigens which deploy an immune response to pathogens faster and more effectively than a traditional vaccine.

In addition to immunological effects, Vault Pharma has presented evidence supporting the vault-based vaccine can treat an already infected individual.

“We established the CTSC at NAU to aid in the search for potential therapeutics that can inhibit the coronavirus in vitro. This summer, we will be bringing online the ability to test potential treatments and vaccines in COVID models, as well,” said French.

The vaccine development is slated for trials at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln but Vault Pharma expects their vaccine to become available after the first wave of traditionally-developed COVID-19 vaccines become available.

The Global Wait for a Vaccine

As the world waits for news of a vaccine becoming widely available, major vaccine manufacturers are expediting typically years-long timelines for vaccine development and safety testing.

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