Canadian company produces viable vaccine candidate for COVID-19

Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company in Quebec City, develops vaccine against coronavirus.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Coronavirus
Coronavirus
Reuters

Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City, Canada, announced on Thursday that they have successfully produced a Virus-Like Particle (VLP) of the coronavirus just 20 days after obtaining the SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing the COVID-19 disease) gene.

Production of the VLP is the first step in developing a vaccine for COVID-19 which will now undergo preclinical testing for safety and efficacy. Once this is completed, Medicago expects to discuss with the appropriate health agencies to initiate human trials of the vaccine by July or August of 2020, the company said.

Medicago is also using its technology platform to develop antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in collaboration with the Laval University's Infectious Disease Research Centre headed by Dr. Gary Kobinger who helped develop a vaccine and treatment for Ebola. These SARS-CoV-2 antibodies could potentially be used to treat people infected by the virus. This research is being funded, in part, by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR).

The company’s CEO, Bruce Clark, said on Thursday his company could produce as many as 10 million doses a month if regulatory hurdles can be cleared. The vaccine could start to become available in November.

“There are a couple of others who are claiming that they have — well, we will call them vaccine[s]” for COVID-19, he said. “But they’re different technologies. Some are RNA- or DNA-based vaccines that have not yet been proven in any indication yet, let alone this one. Hopefully, they’ll be successful.”

Medicago is a leader in plant-based technology, having previously demonstrated its capability to be a first responder in a flu pandemic. In 2009, the company produced a research-grade vaccine candidate against H1N1 in just 19 days.

In 2012, Medicago manufactured 10 million doses of a monovalent influenza vaccine within one month for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the US Department of Defense.

In 2015, Medicago also demonstrated that it could rapidly produce an anti-Ebola monoclonal antibody cocktail for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The company uses a proprietary plant-based technology to develop protein-based therapeutics. Unlike traditional vaccination development, Medicago does not use animal products or live viruses to create its products. Instead, it uses Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) that mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and create an immune response in a non-infectious way.

Clinical trial data suggest that VLPs have a multi-modal mechanism of action that is different from that of inactivated vaccines, activating both arms of the immune system – antibody and cell-mediated responses.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially announced that the coronavirus outbreak is set to become a pandemic.

The announcement has no practical meaning, as restrictions across the world have already been introduced to deal with the virus.



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