Alberta COVID-19 vaccine passes human testing

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A COVID-19 vaccine developed in Edmonton is heading for human trials this summer.Entos Pharmaceuticals, led by the University of Alberta researcher Dr. John Lewis, has selected two promising vaccine prototypes to begin human testing.

“We have two very good candidates who produce a very strong immune response from neutralizing antibodies [in animals]”Lewis told Global News.

The Government of Canada has awarded Lewis $ 4.2 million to take the project to the next level, as part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research rapid research funding competition, which provided $ 109 million dollars to 139 research teams across the country this month.

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The Entos vaccine is based on DNA. Unlike a traditional vaccine that gives patients an inactive virus to teach the body to fight the real thing, a genetic vaccine provides a DNA model for battle.

” [The DNA vaccine] just issue the instructions so that the patient can make the vaccine in their own cells, ”said Lewis.

The CEO of Entos said the method, called Fusogenix, has several advantages: a stronger defense, a more stable vaccine, and the ability to make many products quickly.

“We are working with a dose that can produce a very strong immune response, but will also allow us to increase and manufacture sufficient doses for the Canadian population. “

Entos will partner with the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia for the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.

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“We look at approximately between 70 and 75 [healthy volunteer] patients in this part of phase 1 … We will apply different dose levels, but we will also look at different age population cohorts, “said Lewis.

“As we improve safety in these cohorts, we will move them to a phase 2 setting, where we could use 600 to 800 patients. ”

Phase 1 is scheduled to start in August in Halifax. Phase 2 could start in September and extend to Canada and the United States.

It is hoped that phase 3 can start by the end of 2020. This part would involve working with the World Health Organization to test the vaccine in areas of the world where there is active COVID-19 infection.

Lewis says his team is excited about the research and that the Canadians also seem excited. There was no shortage of volunteers.

“I think a lot of people are sitting at home and are frustrated that they cannot do what they normally do, so we see a lot of interest in participating in the trial. “

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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