AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin is leading the way in developing a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Researchers at the university say they’ve made a “critical breakthrough” by creating a 3D atomic scale map of part of the virus that attaches itself to human cells.

Jason McLellan, associate professor at UT, led the research and knew his team could get the project done.

“As soon as we knew this was a coronavirus, we felt we had to jump at it,” McLellan said. “We knew exactly what mutations to put into this, because we’ve already shown these mutations work for a bunch of other coronaviruses.”

McLellan and his team mapped the “spike protein” of the virus, and it’s an essential step so other researchers can develop antiviral drugs and vaccinations. The paper the group published debuts today in the medical journal “Science.”

The university says the bulk of the research was done by the study’s first co-authors, doctoral student Daniel Wrapp and research associate Nianshuang Wang.

The university’s full release can be seen here.