China to develop new coronavirus vaccine to begin animal trials as soon as April into clinical

A new vaccine for the coronavirus has been tested in animals, a Chinese research team has announced. This is only two weeks after China’s CDC successfully isolated China’s first new coronavirus virus on January 24. The outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia has killed more than 900 people as of February 10, more than SARS. To this end, scientists around the world are actively developing a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

Author: Tong Lan

A chinese scientific research team has announced that the latest vaccine for the new coronavirus has begun animal trials. This is only two weeks after China’s CDC successfully isolated China’s first new coronavirus virus on January 24.

Two weeks to complete the development

First financial reporterlearned from many sources, this vaccine by the China CDC, Shanghai Tongji University School of Medicine and Shanghai biotechnology company Smicros jointly designed and developed, Micro-micro-organisms to provide the production of vaccine samples. On Sunday, samples of the new vaccine were injected into more than 100 healthy mice.

Officials from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the progress of the new coronavirus vaccine to first financial reporters, but stressed: “This is still a very early stage, to use a lot of people ‘steps’ to go.” “

At the end of January, researchers began two weeks of vaccine development after receiving a new coronavirus antigen from the Cdc in China, according to the micro-organisms. The vaccine was developed on the mRNA (Messenger RNA) platform, which is transcribed with a single strand of DNA and carries genetic information like DNA that guides protein synthesis. In addition, 9 to 12 different antigens were used in animal trials of the vaccine.

First Financial Reporter on February 10, respectively, contacted Tongji University and Microbiology, as of the draft, the two sides have not yet responded to the vaccine development process and details.

Professor Liu Zhongmin, director of the Oriental Hospital affiliated with Tongji University, told CCTV: “The mouse test is only a preliminary screening of the candidate vaccine, after the search for effective viral antibodies, will be toxicity testing, which will be used in monkeys and other large animals, to ensure the safety of the vaccine into human clinical trials.”

At the same time, in order to ensure the objectivity of the vaccine, the same vaccine sample of mouse tests are also carried out in China CDC and China Food and Drug Research Institute simultaneously.

A CDC official told First Financial: “mRNA vaccine development is really very fast, but really to be useful will have to wait a while, because there are many ‘steps’ to cross the past.” “

Professor Liu Zhongmin also said that mRNA-based vaccine development is by far one of the most effective and advanced methods, greatly shortening the vaccine development cycle.

Vaccine safety is a major responsibility. Vaccine research and development requires high basic scientific research facilities, must be done under very high biosecurity requirements, and laboratories are p3 or P4 levels, even so the risk of live toxicity research remains high. And after the animal trial is completed, it is necessary to carry out clinical safety, effectiveness evaluation and so on.

First financial reporters according to the public information available, currently Shanghai has P3 laboratory institutions including Shanghai Public Health Center and Fudan University. People familiar with the matter told First Financial Reporter that the Shanghai Public Health Center has also started research and development of a new coronavirus-related vaccine.

Disruptive mRNA platform

Traditional vaccine development is a long process, but thanks to new technology, the vaccine development cycle has been shortened from the past few years to several months.

The mRNA vaccine simulates the occurrence of natural viral infections, inducing human cells to produce the same proteins as the pathogen’s surface, activating the body’s immune response, which is like building a “pharmaceutical factory” in the body.

However, entering a clinical trial requires a necessary step, depending on the trial cycle and the patient’s situation, the clinical trial cycle can range from several months to several years.

The new vaccine is expected to enter human clinical trials as soon as April if animal trials go well. Industry insiders believe that the development of microbes is likely to be the target of the United States biotech company Moderna.

According to Barney Graham, deputy director of the NIH Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, a partner of Moderna, Moderna’s vaccine will also enter human clinical trials as soon as April. “This is a vaccine exploration for unknown new viruses, and it will also push the process system to reform, so we can expect to move forward as quickly as possible.” NIH also said it was ready to scale up for future vaccine production.

First Financial Reporter looked at the background information of microbes and found that the core competencies of the biotech company, founded in 2016, are mRNA synthesis platform and LPP nano-delivery platform, currently used in the development of mRNA vaccine.

Dr. Li Hangwen, Founder CEO of Microbiology, is an Assistant Professor at the Roseville Cancer Center in the United States and the Oriental Hospital affiliated with Tongji University in Shanghai.

It is understood that compared with traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccine technology in efficacy, research and development speed, production expansion and safety and other aspects of a huge advantage. Multiple viral antigens can be integrated into a single mRNA, allowing for the production of complex multi-antigen vaccines that are difficult to achieve in traditional techniques.

Previously, the mRNA vaccine for microorganisms was intended to be applied to the field of tumor immunotherapy, but the company accelerated the development of the virus vaccine after the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia.

Vaccine development also requires significant funding. It is worth noting that on February 7th it was announced that Shanghai Junshi Bio had announced a 10 million yuan investment to participate in the a-round financing of mRNA drug platform Microbes, and to acquire a 2.86 percent stake in it. Junshi Bio CEO Li Ning confirmed the investment to First Financial Reporter.

The mRNA drug platform is widely expected to promise to be a disruptive iteration. Currently, head companies with therapeutic vaccines around the world are making mRNA vaccines an important development direction, such as Moderna, CureVac, BioNTech, etc.

Global Vaccine Competition

Although most scientists believe that “far water cannot save the fire”, the outbreak may have eased by the time the vaccine was deemed safe. But researchers from around the world, including the United States, Britain, France, Australia and other countries, are still actively engaged in the development of a new coronavirus vaccine. A “time-grabbing” vaccine competition with the virus is also under way.

CEPI, a government-enterprise partnership established in 2017, has invested $9 million each in four start-ups and research institutions, including Moderna, Inovio and the University of Queensland research team, since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia. Support the development of new coronavirus vaccines.

Richard Hatchett, the agency’s CEO, told First Financial that their goal is to get into human clinical trials within four months.

In addition to the mRNA method, DNA-based vaccines can also be developed quickly. Inovio, the US biobusiness company, launched a research and development programme on the new coronavirus the day after Chinese scientists released the genome sequence of the new coronavirus into a public database. They designed a DNA vaccine for the new coronavirus protoprotein and within two days designed a vaccine for protoproteins.

Inovio CEO Joseph Kim says the company’s traditional laboratory practice of developing vaccines based on the virus’s genetic sequence is more efficient and faster than traditional laboratory practices that use viral entities for testing.

On January 28, Inovio partnered with Suzhou-based biopharmaceutical company Ai Weixin Bio to develop the vaccine using the latest DNA vaccine technology, and said it aims to bring the vaccine to clinical trials in China in the shortest possible time.

“Vaccine development is a very difficult task, on the one hand, it requires strong technology, although the technical difficulties have been largely overcome, but on the other hand also need strong funding. Professor Peter Hotez, a professor at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Rockefeller University’s Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, USA, told First Financial: “From the failure of SARS vaccine development, it is clear that funding for vaccine research and development has been significantly inadequate as the outbreak has passed.” The development of their own vaccines is very difficult, without financial support is difficult to continue. “

“There are many difficulties that can prevent scientists from developing vaccines, such as when the outbreak is over, no company will do industrial production, ” the head of the Pasteur Institute in Shanghai of the Chinese Academy of Sciences told First Financial. But he said vaccine stocks could be positive for future virus-like prevention and control.

In the case of the Ebola virus, there was no vaccine available when the virus first broke out in West Africa in 2014, but more than 200,000 people were vaccinated against Ebola in 2019 when the outbreak was repeated in Congo, which promptly curbed the spread of the outbreak.

In this outbreak, the world has shown unprecedented support for basic scientific research. “We want to fund one of these teams that will bring hope,” Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Alliance for Epidemiological Prevention and Innovation, told First Financial. “