Vaccine against the COVID-19: a Quebec-based company raised a wave of hope with his research

Vaccin contre la COVID-19: une entreprise de Québec soulève une vague d’espoir avec ses recherches

A biopharmaceutical whose head office is in Québec city has received very encouraging results in mice with a vaccine it is developing against the COVID-19 who rekindled the hope of having protection against the virus by the end of the year.

Medicago has announced today (Thursday) that its vaccine candidate has produced a response in the antibody-positive mice 10 days after a single dose, it is injected, in tests carried out in Quebec city.

The company is awaiting the results of a second “booster” dose to subject its research to Health Canada.

“If it is shown that our vaccine candidate is safe, stimulates a good immune response in the animal, and that it presents a good development plan, I am hopeful that we could move to the first clinical phase in humans in July or August. Health Canada usually responds in 30 days when you submit to a folder”, explains Nathalie Charland, director of scientific affairs and medical in Medicago.

Asked about the proportion of studies on mice that are experiencing the same success on humans, Ms. Charland replied that it was impossible to answer.

“It is a question of several millions of $. But the mouse is a vital step to verify that the candidate vaccine is safe and induces an immune response decent. This is what we saw up here.”

“In general we are doing tests in two animal species before moving on to humans. Now we go directly to the human, but we will still do testing on primates. Usually one speaks of months between results in mice and testing in humans. We’re talking about a few weeks,” she adds.

Without declaring victory, Ms. Charland is optimism for sure.

“Fingers crossed that it will work. There is hope because of the type of vaccine that is being worked on is similar to the one we developed the seasonal flu, which has given good results. We work many hours since march, this is because we believe in it. We would very much like to vaccinate the population of canada and quebec, with a product made in Quebec. I have confidence.”

As soon as 2020

Medicago believes that its current facilities in Quebec and North Carolina could produce, respectively, up to 20 million and 100 million doses annually.

“We are working hard to increase our capacity to 20 million additional doses in Canada and 100 million in North Carolina to 2022, prior to the completion of our main plant in Quebec in 2023, which is expected to be able to produce more than one billion doses of vaccine against the COVID-19 annually “, said by press release Michael Schunk, executive vice-president of operations at Medicago.

According to Ms. Charland, if the vaccine receives approval from Health Canada, the current factory of Quebec could produce two million doses per month by the end of the year, subject to the volume of the dose required.

Process

Medicago was awarded in February of the gene of the SARS-CoV-2 to be the origin of the disease. At the beginning of march, 20 days later, she has produced Virus-like Particles (VLPS) and has started preclinical trials.

The company uses a production technology on plants to develop therapeutic proteins, no animal products, or live virus is not used. The Virus-like Particles (VLPS) used mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, allowing the body to recognize and create an immune response to non-infectious.

According to the world health Organization, dated as of may 11, eight potential vaccines were in phase 1 or 2 trials on humans. The candidate Medicago is part of a further 102 to the phase of pre-clinical testing around the world.

In Canada, IMV is expected to begin testing in humans in July at McGill University, and Nova Scotia.

– With the collaboration of Pierre-Paul Biron

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