The South Korean government commissioned a research consortium intended at testing the first of a vaccine candidate on primates. The consortium aims to find and evaluate an effective medicine for the new coronavirus ahead of other countries.
The global COVID-19 outbreak created a vast market for medical supplies such as vaccines, diagnostic kits, and medicines. The state formed a consortium composed of researches and companies such as GenNBio, Binex, Genexine, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), and the state-run Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).
Genexine, stated on Wednesday, said that the research consortium designed the primate test to check the safety of GX-19. Genexine is a clinical-stage biotechnology company headquartered in Seongnam-si, Korea.
GX-19 is a DNA vaccine material for the treatment of the COVID-19 disease.
GenNBio Inc., a South Korean organ transplant company, would lead the vaccine testing in non-human primates. Vaccine makers use non-human primates, including monkeys and chimpanzees, for vaccine tests because of their genetic similarity to humans. They consider the primates as the best available animal model to evaluate safety and immunogenicity.
An official from Genexine said that the company plans to start a human clinical trial as early as June.
Conventional vaccines work by injecting weakened viruses into the body, training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. On the other hand, DNA vaccines trigger an adaptive immune response by injecting genetically engineered plasmid that can produce viral antigens into the body.
DNA vaccination requires less time for research and development than conventional vaccine types.
Medical scientists that using different compositions of conventional vaccines would have a higher chance of developing a novel COVID-19 vaccine compared to researching and developing a brand-new drug.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced on Tuesday that it would provide a state fund $3.25 million (4 billion won) into the manufacture of therapeutic materials and clinical trial researches. The project would include quick clinical experiments to check the efficacy of Kaletra, a medicine used for treating HIV infection, and a Chloroquine, a medication used to prevent and treat malaria.