Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working with a British company, ConserV Bioscience Limited, to develop a broad-spectrum or “universal” coronavirus vaccine.

A broad-spectrum vaccine would protect against coronavirus pathogens of both human and animal origin, including MERS, SARS, and COVID-19, and could protect against new or mutated coronaviruses.

The collaboration brings together CBL’s expertise in identifying antigens and LLNL’s nanolipoprotein delivery system. Nanolipoproteins are water-soluble molecules, similar to the high-density lipoproteins that help regulate good cholesterol in humans.

LLNL has been working with the nanotechnology as a delivery platform for tularemia and chlamydia vaccines that are under development.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause respiratory tract infections in humans. A novel strain of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, first identified in December 2019, is what causes COVID-19. Variants of the virus, which appears to mutate easily, have emerged that could spread more easily or be resistant to the recently approved vaccines.

A broad-spectrum vaccine could protect against continued mutations of SARS-CoV-2, or other strains of the virus. Using nanolipoproteins for the delivery system would allow the vaccine to be freeze dried, avoiding the need for constant cold during transport and storage.

“We are pleased to be working with the Biosciences and Biotechnology Division at LLNL to develop our broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccine candidate,” said Kimbell Duncan, chief executive at ConserV Bioscience. “We have identified regions within the proteins of the virus that are not susceptible to change and if effective, the vaccine promises to protect against a broad spectrum of current circulating coronavirus strains and future emergent ones.”

In addition to its “universal” coronavirus vaccine candidate, ConserV Bioscience, a late-stage vaccine development company, is working on potential vaccines to protect against broad-spectrum influenza, mosquito-borne diseases, HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Rotavirus and Chagas.