Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are taking their plant-based Covid vaccine to phase 3 testing.
"We are delighted to take the significant step of launching the Phase 3 clinical trial at sites around the world," he said. Takashi Nagao, CEO and president of Medicago, in a Press release.
“This takes us one step closer to providing a major new COVID-19 vaccine and contributing to the global fight against the pandemic together with our partner GSK ”.
Another step forward
The first tests of the Covid vaccine have begun at the end of last fall, after the positive verification of its ability to cause the creation of antibodies that neutralize the virus.
In February, the American FDA granted the Covid vaccine a fast track of funds and bureaucracy given the emergency.
How the covid vaccine works
The Medicago vaccine uses both a different production form and a different target form.
That? Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines use the genetic code of the coronavirus spike protein as an antigen. The Sinovac vaccine and others use the inactivated virus.
Medicago uses Coronavirus-Like-Particles (CoVLP) for its antigen. As the name suggests, these particles mimic viruses but without having the genetic material.
The immune system should respond to them as to the virus, even if they cannot replicate or cause an infection.
These mimic viruses are created in the leaves of N. benthamiana, Australian "relative" of tobacco.
Like most other Covid vaccines, the Medicago / GSK vaccine is also given in two doses.
The 3 phase
The phase 3 study will test the vaccine against a placebo, enrolling up to 30.000 people, starting with healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 before moving on to over 65s and people with comorbidities.
From Canada and the US, the study will then be extended to eight other countries, pending final approval.
It is not an isolated attempt: even British American Tobacco e iBio are working on plant-based Covid vaccines.
Medicago itself then tests a plant-based vaccine against seasonal flu, with good results in large clinical trials.