Could rotavirus genome be key to COVID-19 vaccine for kids? IU researchers say yes.

John Patton.
John Patton. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

Since the pandemic struck the United States more than a year ago, Indiana University Bloomington virologist John Patton, graduate student Asha Philip, and others have been working on a COVID-19 vaccine for young children, based on a well-established childhood vaccine for the common illness rotavirus.

Currently, no available COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in children younger than 16.

By reverse-engineering the rotavirus genome to serve as a vector for the now-familiar SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the research team succeeded in generating genetically stable recombinant rotaviruses that contain portions of the spike protein, which could lead to a combined rotavirus-COVID-19 vaccine to replace current widely used rotavirus vaccines.