Plant-Based Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Launches Canadian Study

Medicago plans to launch a plant based coronavirus vaccine phase 2/3 study during October 2020
depiction of the coronavirus, sars-cov-2
(Precision Vaccinations)

A Quebec City biopharmaceutical company announced it began Phase I clinical trials for its plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Canada based Medicago stated it was administering the first vaccine doses in healthy human volunteers, as of July 14, 2020.

Medicago also indicated it has plans to launch a Phase 2/3 study during October 2020.

Medicago commented it is the only company with plant-based manufacturing technology that has completed Phase III clinical trials (with its quadrivalent VLP influenza vaccine candidate) and pandemic Phase II clinical trials (with its H1N1 pandemic vaccine candidate). 

This new Phase I clinical trial will evaluate dosages of 3.75, 7.5, or 15 micrograms of the recombinant Coronavirus Virus-Like Particle (CoVLP) vaccine candidate alone, or with an adjuvant in a prime-boost regimen.

VLPs mimic the native structure of viruses, allowing them to be easily recognized by the immune system. However, they lack core genetic material which makes them non-infectious and unable to replicate.

Medicago successfully produced VLPs of the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus just 20 days after obtaining the SARS-CoV-2 gene.

Medicago said it will be testing its vaccine candidate with two adjuvants separately, GSK’s proprietary pandemic adjuvant technology and Dynavax’s CpG 1018™. 

This is important news since an adjuvant can be of particular importance in a pandemic situation as it may boost the immune response and reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protecting the greatest number of people.

Nathalie Landry, Executive Vice-President, Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago, said in a related press statement, “Our progress continues to demonstrate the value of Medicago’s unique plant-based vaccine technology.”

The company’s first New Drug Submission for its seasonal recombinant quadrivalent VLP vaccine for active immunization against influenza in adults (18-64 years), is currently under review by Health Canada, following the completion of a robust safety and efficacy clinical program in over 25,000 subjects. 

In addition to its clinical development capabilities.

Medicago has also demonstrated its capacity to produce a large number of vaccines in a short period of time, with the production in 2012 of 10 million doses of monovalent pandemic influenza H1N1 vaccines in one month for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the U.S. DoD.

And, in 2016, Medicago demonstrated that it could rapidly adapt its platform to produce an anti-Ebola MAbs cocktail for the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Medicago said it expects to be able to manufacture approximately 100 million doses by the end of 2021. 

By the end of 2023, the construction of Medicago’s large-scale facility in Quebec City, Canada, will be completed. It is anticipated that this commercial facility will have the capacity to produce up to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine annually, said Medico.

In addition to the plant-based vaccine program, Medicago is using its technology platform to develop antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in collaboration with Laval University's Infectious Disease Research Centre. 

These SARS-CoV-2 antibodies could potentially be used to treat people infected by the virus. This research is being partially funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

PrecisionVaccinations publishes coronavirus vaccine development news.