A drug development startup has begun working on a DNA vaccine against the new coronavirus, aiming to begin clinical trials in six months.
AnGes Inc., which was founded by an Osaka University researcher, announced in Tokyo on March 5 that the company is working with the university to develop the vaccine.
The vaccine under development will produce antibodies against the new coronavirus inside a person’s body through the use of synthetic DNA.
Proteins created by the DNA develop antibodies, which are expected to help immunize a recipient and prevent a patient’s condition from worsening.
“The advantage of a DNA vaccine is that it can be manufactured quickly,” said Ryuichi Morishita, a professor of clinical gene therapy at Osaka University who founded AnGes. “We’ll first check how many antibodies the vaccine can create in mice over two months.”
DNA vaccines can be manufactured in a span of several weeks. It takes about half a year to culture conventional vaccines, which use attenuated pathogens or those that are altered to prevent them from multiplying.
AnGes has started joint manufacturing of the DNA vaccine for the new coronavirus with Takara Bio Inc., a leading reagent company, based on its genetic information. In theory, DNA vaccines can trigger a strong immune reaction, but in some cases, the vaccines failed to fully immunize those who received vaccinations.
DNA vaccines have yet to be commercialized for human use.
However, Morishita said, “No safety concerns regarding a DNA vaccine have been confirmed in clinical trials on more than 1,400 people.”
As for the effects of DNA vaccines, he said, “In some cases, three to four vaccinations may be necessary to increase the production of antibodies. The vaccine can still be effective even if the virus mutates slightly.”