One of the seven COVID-19 vaccines that receive funding from Bill Gates will be the first human clinical trial today.
- Tram Ho
In an interview with host Trevor Noah on The Daily Show last Friday, Bill Gates said he would fund the plant for the seven most potent vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. And today, one of those 7 vaccines will enter a phase I clinical trial in humans, to test its safety.
The vaccine called INO-4800 was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals – a pharmaceutical biotechnology company in Pennsylvania.
In this first phase of testing, Inovo scientists plan to vaccinate 40 healthy adults in Philadelphia, and Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Volunteers in Philadelphia will receive vaccines at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. And Kansas volunteers will go to the city’s Pharmaceutical Research Center to get an injection.
Each volunteer will receive two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. Inovio said their safety test is expected to result in late summer. If those results are positive, the company will begin Phase II testing, to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Inovio is a company with strong experience in vaccine research. When the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak broke out in 2012, they were one of the first companies to develop a vaccine for the disease.
So when the new COVID-19 epidemic broke out in China, scientists in Inovio were constantly monitoring it and starting vaccine preparation activities early on.
By January, when the SARS-CoV-2 virus genome was published by Chinese scientists, confirming it was a corona virus, scientists in Inovio compared the SARS-CoV-2 genome to the the kind of vaccine they have.
” We all hope that [the genome of the new virus] will have enough coincidence that the MERS vaccine we developed earlier can be effective , “ said James Broderick, vice president of the department. R&D at Inovio, said in an interview.
Like MERS and SARS, the new virus causing illness in China is a strain of the corona family, a group of viruses that has protein spikes and use RNA as a genetic material. Fortunately, this time did not smile at Inovio, SARS-CoV-2 has a genome too different from MERS, so the old vaccine they developed could not be applied to the new virus.
But not so that the researchers in Inovio gave up. They have embarked on a new quest, developing an entirely new vaccine, for the new disease. In just 3 hours, Inovio designed a preclinical vaccine, the first potential candidate against Covid-19.
Inovio is a company with strong experience in vaccine research
Designing the vaccine in just 3 hours ago only sounded like a fictional story. But using a proprietary technology based on genetic engineering techniques, Inovio has made it a reality.
In the past, to develop vaccines, we needed to isolate and cultivate viruses. This process requires a lot of time and entails certain risks. Viruses need to be killed or inactivated in order to weaken, then they are injected into the human body to help the immune system identify the virus’s characteristics.
The body will now produce antibodies to prevent the attacks of real viruses if they occur in the future.
But the process of researching and developing this traditional vaccine can take months, even years. So Inovio and other biotechnology companies have developed many methods to help make the vaccine much faster.
For SARS-CoV-2, Inovio scientists sought to convert viral RNA into DNA. They then selected a number of genetic sequences in that DNA, using computer simulations to suggest where would the sequence boost the immune system to produce antibodies.
Selected DNA fragments are then injected inside the bacteria, taking advantage of the bacterial biology to create large amounts of protein. It is these proteins that will be used to make the vaccine, and they will help the immune system recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus once it enters the body.
Inovio’s approach significantly shortened the time required to design a vaccine. And the truth is they did it within 3 hours.
Broderick said after the design, the company will take about a month to produce the first batch of preclinical vaccines. And now after 10 weeks of work, they have obtained a Phase I clinical trial license and begin to implement it.
Inovo uses proprietary technology to develop the COVID-19 vaccine
“This is a significant step forward in the global fight against COVID-19. Without a safe and effective new vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to be life-threatening and give birth.” Design by people around the world, “said Dr. J. Joseph Kim, President and CEO of INOVIO.
Inovo’s vaccine has received $ 5 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Disease Preparedness (CEPI).
“Since the genome sequence of this virus was decoded in early January, we have mobilized a dedicated team of employees, partners and sponsors, working around the clock to ensure INO-4800. is rapidly developing towards this phase I clinical trial and is geared towards planned vaccine efficacy trials , “said Joseph Kim.
COVID-19 is posing an unprecedented demand for vaccines on a global scale. Any vaccine that demonstrates its safety and effectiveness will face a major manufacturing challenge.
So, Bill Gates and his Bill and Melinda Foundation have pledged to build up to 7 factories for the 7 most potent vaccines to help the world fight COVID-19. Even if we end up picking the two most effective vaccines and Gates will lose billions of dollars on five unused plants, he said it is still worth it.
” This will not make us waste time saying” Ok, what kind of vaccine works, “and then building a factory for them,” Gates said. Regardless of which vaccine will eventually work, Gates will campaign to build factories for all seven companies, even during Phase I of this clinical trial.
Bill Gates said he is willing to trade several billion dollars for a few months to get the COVID-19 vaccine faster
In the fastest case, Gates believes we are 18 months away from a COVID-19 vaccine. Inovio said that during this time, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for Disease Prevention and Reform (CEPI), they could produce 1 million doses of INO-4800 vaccine for by the end of 2020.
Because the production and testing process are done in parallel, if INO-4800 reaches success, we will have the vaccine to use right away.
See Businessinsider, Inovio
Source : Genk