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The technique is applied to identify in the genome of pathogens (such as Sars-Cov-2) possible antigenic targets for potential vaccines against viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. This is how the professor of the School of Pharmacy and researcher of the Center of Research in Biological Sciences (Nupeb) of the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), Alexandre Reis, has worked over the past 12 years to develop new vaccines against Leishmaniasis - zoonosis of chronic evolution that, if untreated, can lead to death in up to 90% of cases, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Health.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, UFOP professors Alexandre Reis, Bruno Mendes Roatt and Rory Brito, researchers from the same laboratory, used the bioinformatics platform in reading the genetic sequences of the new coronavirus to identify which of them can induce a T-cell response in the body, in addition to the production of neutralizing antibodies.

"We have developed a reverse vaccinology platform that uses algorithms (pipeline) for evaluating the genomes of agents that cause infectious diseases, and we are now applying this pipeline to the Sars-Cov-2 genome for the selection of candidate vaccines. To do this, a program predicts what we call the epitopes of T and B lymphocytes. Then, we start from the virus genome so the program reads the genetic sequences and can identify which are the target protein encoders and thus build the sets of proteins (amino acids) that will induce the response of the T and B cell (with production of neutralizing antibodies)," explains Alexandre.

T cells - which are responsible for the defense of the body against invasive pathogens -, such as viruses, are able to induce effector responses and even self-destruction of antigen-presenting cells. Besides the programs that will identify which sequences can induce positive response of T cells, other algorithms produce predictions that can point out if such sets of amino acids are capable of producing antibody response, the so-called B cells.

"After the two steps are completed, we go through the reverse vaccinology pipeline, so we have the sequences of the genome that can encode the virus proteins. From there, we can build a vaccine model designed from the computer models. In other programs, we can predict the peptides - pieces of proteins registered in viral RNA through sequences of amino acids - which we identify as potential vaccines and whether they are recognized or not by the cells of the immune system," adds the researcher.

The technology developed by the research group led by professors and researchers at UFOP was published in an article in the science journal Nature about the technological advances used in the search for the vaccine against Covid-19.

Check out the original publication, in English.

Mapa de Convênios

A UFOP, através da DRI, possui convênios com diversas instituições ao redor do mundo, muitas das quais oferecem oportunidades de parcerias e mobilidades acadêmicas.


Max Pedro da Silva

Curso: Arquitetura e Urbanismo
Universidade de Destino: Parsons The New School For Desing - Estados Unidos