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The next generation of COVID-19 vaccine developers will take a more traditional route



Chicago/Berlin (Reuters)-The few drugmakers leading the global coronavirus vaccine race are pushing the development of vaccine technology. The next crop being developed has a more traditional, proven design.

File picture: A vial labeled “Vaccine” stands next to a medical syringe. The words “Coronavirus COVID-19” shown in this picture were taken on April 10, 2020 in this illustration.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Considering the huge scale of global demand, the difference in impact on different populations, and the effectiveness of the first crops, the world will need several different vaccines to fight the COVID-1

9 pandemic.

Now, many of the leading candidates in the final stages of testing are based on new technology platforms that have not been largely validated for mass production of vaccines.

Including Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc. Ribonucleic acid Pfizer Teflon With partner BioNTech SE 22UAy.F, And the inactivated cold virus platform used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca AZN.LJohnson Jiangnan And CanSino Biologics 6185.HK, Its vaccine has been approved for military use in China.

Merck NRK In September, testing of a COVID-19 vaccine based on the weakened measles virus was started. The vaccine can transmit the genes of the new coronavirus into the body, thereby stimulating the immune response to the coronavirus.

Among them, only the technology provided by Johnson & Johnson and CanSino that uses cold virus as a carrier to deliver the genetic material of the coronavirus has produced a licensed vaccine for Ebola virus.

The next class of drug candidates-which are expected to receive late-stage trial results in the first half of 2021-are heavily biased towards methods for successful vaccine production.

Conventional methods include the use of inactivated or inactivated forms of pathogens that cause the disease to cause an immune response, such as those used in the manufacture of influenza, polio and rabies vaccines.

Protein-based vaccines are also more common, which use purified fragments of the virus to stimulate an immune response. Vaccines against whooping cough, whooping cough and shingles use this method.

Sanofi SASY The protein-based COVID-19 vaccine is being developed using the same method as the Flublok seasonal flu vaccine. Sanofi is expected to start the final phase of testing in early December, with the approval target for the first half of 2021.

And Novavax Inc NVAX.O It has not yet produced a licensed vaccine. It is using similar purified protein technology and is expected to start a late-stage US trial of 30,000 volunteers in late November.

Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: “These are more traditional methods, so we feel more comfortable with having a lot of experience using them.”

Offit also believes that Chinese researchers are developing some inactivated virus vaccines, including Sinopharm’s China Biotechnology Group (CNBG), which is one of the few first crop developers to use traditional technology.

Other second wave developers are making vaccines based on virus-like particles (VLP), which mimic the structure of the coronavirus but do not contain any genetic material.

VLP vaccines can be produced in many different types of cells, including mammalian, bacterial, insect, yeast and plant cells. This method has been used to develop vaccines for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.

Medicago in Quebec is testing a VLP COVID-19 vaccine grown in tobacco plants backed by tobacco company Philip Morris in the afternoon.

Medicago has not yet produced an approved vaccine, but has completed large-scale testing of seasonal flu vaccines using this method. It plans to start a mid-term trial of its COVID-19 vaccine next month and plans to reach a dose of 1 billion doses per year by 2023.

Others are looking for alternative delivery methods, such as the nasal spray vaccine developed by a team from Xiamen University, Hong Kong University and Beijing Wantai Biopharmaceutical Company, which is based on a modified influenza virus.

Challenges for the future

However, if the current leaders bring the vaccine to the finish line in the next few months, completing the second round of harvest work may encounter difficulties.

“If we get the super vaccine from company x in the market in December, it will be difficult to recruit participants to participate in other studies,” said Peter Kremsner of the University Hospital of Tubingen in Germany.

“Then everyone will say that if this vaccine exists, I will get it immediately. This will definitely recruit people,” added Kremsner, who is testing CureVac AC voltage The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in early clinical trials.

On the other hand, when the community spread of the virus is rampant, as happened again in the United States, Europe and other places, it is easier and faster to prove the efficacy. This is for companies that start large-scale vaccine trials in the near future. Potential advantages.

Rocky Swift reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Tokyo and Chicago; Kate Kelander, Ludwig Berg in London, Caroline Copley in Berlin, Sangmi Cha in Seoul and Alison Mard in Toronto Additional reporting by Lee; Written by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot


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