In April 2020, we provided a $1 million donation from Golden Casket unclaimed prize money to accelerate the University of Queensland’s world-leading research into a COVID-19 vaccine.     

While UQ’s COVID-19 vaccine didn’t progress to the next phase of development, the unique technology it used holds promise for the development of future vaccines for a range of other illnesses.    

In fact, the researchers' patented-clamp — which boosts a vaccine's ability to stimulate an immune response — has shown promise in trials targeting influenza, Ebola, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome.    

UQ’s Professor Paul Young believes the underlying platform his team had developed should be applicable to a wide range of virus threats.    

The UQ researchers are focussing on a type of vaccines called subunit vaccines, which work by introducing a fragment of the virus, the ‘spike’ protein, to the body.

The idea being that the body recognises the protein and creates specialised immune cells to prevent infection.    

The challenge is to get the body to recognise the virus fragment as enough of a threat to create an immune response. However, injecting the ‘spike’ protein into the body isn’t enough on its own.     

For this, the UQ team has pioneered and patented molecular clamp technology. This uses two fragments of other proteins, which when added to the ‘spike’ protein makes it recognisable to the immune system.   

UQ’s molecular clamp technology has been recognised globally, including by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI).    

We look forward to seeing what this exciting technology can deliver.