Chula reports positive animal trial results for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate

File Photo: A researcher at the Chula Vaccine Development Centre shows a tube of vaccine prototype. This prototype is now being tested on macaques.

An anti-coronavirus candidate vaccine, jointly developed from tobacco leaves by Chulalongkorn University and Baiya Phytopharm, a startup Thai pharmaceutical firm, has shown encouraging results in boosting antibody levels in hamsters, rats and monkeys.

Speaking during a panel discussion on Saturday, Associate Professor Dr. Suthira Dejkhunnavuth, one of the researchers involved in the development of six COVID-19 candidate vaccines, said one, called Baiya SARS-CoV Vax 1, which was developed from nicotiana benthamiana tobacco leaves, has been tested on white mice and monkeys.

The results show that the vaccine boosts the level of antibodies in the test animals effectively after just two doses, she said, adding that the next step is to evaluate the toxicology or side effects of the candidate vaccine.

Dr. Suthira said the tests in animals will also help in determining the dosage of the candidate vaccine to be used in humans in future stage 3 trials.

The COVID-19 immunity level of the monkeys in the tests will be checked again, six months after they were initially inoculated.

“We have to proceed with the development of our own vaccine because we cannot afford to wait, which explains why we are not waiting for funding from the Government,” said Dr. Suthira.

Meanwhile, Professor Dr. Narin Hirunsutthikul, vice rector of Chulalongkorn University, said that Chulalongkorn University is in close consultation with the National Vaccines Institute, the Food and Drugs Administration and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to secure their endorsement and to make sure that its candidate vaccines meet the required standards.

He said that the next phase of tests will be conducted at the Primate Research Centre in Kaeng Khoi district of Saraburi province, a lab with animal bio safety level 3 facilities.

If the vaccine experiments in Thailand are successful, Dr. Narin said that there are qualified pharmaceutical manufacturers ready to mass produce the vaccines on a commercial basis.


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