BOSTON (CBS) – Two Boston hospitals are teaming up in the race to find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital are working together to develop a vaccine using a unique gene-based strategy.

Their research is using what’s called AAV technology, or Adeno-Associated-Virus technology, in hopes of stimulating the immune system to fight SARS-CoV-2 – the virus responsible for COVID-19.

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“We’re taking a virus called AAV, that’s harmless and has been engineered to be harmless, and we’re using it essentially as a delivery vehicle,” explained Katrine Bosley of Mass Eye and Ear.

The AAV delivers a tiny piece of SARS-CoV-2 into the body – a piece too small to be harmful.

“That little piece can then stimulate your immune system to create a response, so that then if you’re exposed to the actual virus your immune system is already primed and ready to go,” Bosley said.

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While that is the basic premise behind all vaccines, the AAV delivery is what is unique in this research she said. “It’s emerging; it’s a newer technology.”

Celtics co-owner and Mass Eye and Ear Board Chairman Wyc Grousbeck donated $1 million to the research.

The project is in pre-clinical stages, with a goal of human clinical trials beginning later this year.

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While Bosley said it’s too early to put a final timeline on a potential vaccine, “we are obviously working with great urgency.”