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UK, China prep trials of coronavirus vaccine candidates

UK vaccine clinical trials set to begin next month

Coronavirus vaccine vial

Researchers from Oxford University in the UK say they will start clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine next month, while another vaccine developed by Chinese military scientists has been given to patients for the first time.

The Oxford team started work on a vaccine on 10 January, shortly after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus was published by Chinese researchers working in the source of the outbreak in Wuhan. A lead candidate has now been identified to take forward into human testing.

Meanwhile, the Chinese trial got underway over the weekend, according to local news reports, and is enrolling 108 residents of Wuhan, aged between 18 and 60, who will be randomised to three dose groups.

The volunteers will be isolated for 14 days after dosing with the adenovirus-based Ad5-nCoV shot developed in collaboration with CanSino Biologics, and monitored for six months.

The vaccine has already been tested on animals without any toxicology issues, and appears to be capable of eliciting immunity against the virus, according to the biotech.

The Oxford University project – led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, Prof Andrew Pollard, Prof Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas and Prof Adrian Hill – is focusing on a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector (ChAdOx1) developed at Oxford’s Jenner Institute and previously used to develop a vaccine against MWERS-Cov, another coronavirus.

The vaccine contains the genetic sequence of the coronavirus surface ‘spike’ protein inside the ChAdOx1 construct. According to the scientists, after vaccination the spike protein is produced in the body, stimulating an immune response.

In a statement, the UK team said they are not able to recruit patients into the study yet as animal studies are still ongoing at the Public Health England (PHE) laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury.

Last week, the US National Institutes of Health said the first patients had been treated with Moderna’s mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine mRNA-1273, thought to be the first time that a COVID-19 vaccine had been given to patients in a clinical trial.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that there are at least 20 different COVID-19 vaccines in development, including a handful at the clinical trial stage.

GlaxoSmithKline is working with China-based Clover Biopharmaceuticals on an experimental vaccine, while the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority  (BARDA) is collaborating with Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson on candidates.

Other companies with vaccines in development include CureVac – which was forced to deny allegations it had been offered $1bn to relocate to the US by the Trump administration – and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Article by
Phil Taylor

23rd March 2020

From: Research



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