The current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, has raised significant social, psychological and economic concerns in addition to direct medical issues. The rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 to almost every country on the globe and the failure to contain the infections have contributed to fear and panic worldwide. The lack of available and efficient antiviral drugs or vaccines has further worsened the situation. For these reasons, it cannot be overstated that an accelerated effort for the development of novel drugs and vaccines is needed. In this context, novel approaches in both gene therapy and vaccine development are essential. Previous experience from SARS- and MERS-coronavirus vaccine and drug development projects have targeted glycoprotein epitopes, monoclonal antibodies, angiotensin receptor blockers and gene silencing technologies, which may be useful for COVID-19 too. Moreover, existing antivirals used for other types of viral infections have been considered as urgent action is necessary. This review aims at providing a background of coronavirus genetics and biology, examples of therapeutic and vaccine strategies taken and potential innovative novel approaches in progress.
Keywords: RNA interference; coronavirus; gene silencing; peptide vaccine; viral replication; viral vectors.