They say the phenomenon is caused by “floating mutant proteins” that can occur when a vaccine sends the spike protein of the Sars-Cov-2 virus into the wrong part of a cell.
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Senior scientist Rolf Marschalek said US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson had previously been in contact to ask questions about his team’s research at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
But he said he had yet to discuss his findings with AstraZeneca, maker of the Oxford vaccine.
He said: “They never contacted us, so we never spoke to them, but if they do, I can tell them what to do to make a better vaccine.”
AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson injections have been associated with a small number of severe blood clots.
Professor Marschalek believes the cause is “floating mutant proteins,” reports the Financial Times.
He said the problem lies with the adenovirus vectors – which the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines use to send the spike protein of the Sars-Cov-2 virus into the body.
The German researcher and other scientists said this method sends the spike protein into the nucleus of the cell rather than the cytosol fluid inside the cell.
Once inside the cell nucleus, parts of the spike protein separate and create mutant versions.
They are then unable to bind to the cell membrane and the floating mutant proteins are instead secreted by cells in the body.
According to Marschalek’s theory, this can trigger blood clots in about one in 100,000 people.
The results were published in a preprint journal article published today.
In comparison, mRNA-based vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna injections, deliver the genetic material from the peak to the cell fluid – it never enters the nucleus.
Professor Marschalek told the Financial Times: “When will that. . . the genes of the virus are in the nucleus, they can cause problems. “
The rare reaction disrupted the rollout of AstraZeneca and J&J injections and was recorded in 309 of the 33 million people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK, causing 56 deaths.
In Europe, at least 142 people have had blood clots out of 16 million people who have received the vaccine.
But Marschalek believes there is a simple “way out” if vaccine developers can alter the sequence of the spike protein to prevent it from separating.
“With the data we have in our hands, we can tell companies how to mutate these sequences, encoding the spike protein in a way that prevents unintentional splicing reactions,” he said.
Meanwhile, some scientists have said more evidence is needed to back up the latest claims.
“There is a lack of evidence to show the causal chain of the splice. . . from spike protein to thrombotic events, ”said Johannes Oldenburg, professor of transfusion medicine at the University of Bonn.
“This is yet another hypothesis that must be proven by experimental data. ”
Marschalek said he presented the results of his lab to the German government’s Paul Ehrlich Institute and the country’s advisory body on vaccination and immunization.
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“They were surprised with our results because no one was thinking about the splice issue,” he said.
J&J said, “We support continued research and analysis of this rare event as we work with medical experts and global health authorities.
“We look forward to reviewing and sharing the data as it becomes available. ”