Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) announced it had joined the international Human Vaccines Project (HVP) Thursday, bringing its expertise and computing resources to the project to aid the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine and to improve understanding of immune response.
The HVP, a nonprofit, public-private partnership focused on decoding the human immune system and accelerating the development of vaccines and immunotherapies, brings together leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits, and governments to usher in a new era in human health, the project said. As part of a three-year agreement with HVP, LLNL will leverage its vaccine research response knowledge, its work on artificial intelligence (AI), and its computational modeling of immune response and sepsis, along with its computational infrastructure and scientists, to help accelerate the development of vaccines and other medical countermeasures to protect against pandemic threats.
“While there has been impressive progress in terms of diagnosing and deploying a vaccine in as short as a year, even that is unacceptable in its cost, and there is a whole lot of work left to be done to radically accelerate this process and mitigate loss and suffering,” said Shankar Sundaram, director of LLNL’s Center for Bioengineering. “Being pre-emptive and ultra-rapid is the goal for us, and that requires advanced multi-disciplinary technical capabilities that do not exist today. While amazing progress has been achieved already, we must work with domain experts to attain the quantum leap necessary to be truly prepared and have a timely response that is less serious than what we had with COVID-19.”
Development of a universal coronavirus vaccine or therapeutic could be used to protect against an entire family of related viruses, officials with the project said, including variants like the Delta variant of COVID-19. Additionally, it could provide “off-the-shelf” products for deployment in high-risk areas to prevent future pandemic outbreaks.