Technovalia starts trial of gene-based COVID-19 vaccine

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Melbourne-based privately owned Australian biotechnology Technovalia has partnered with the Vax4COVID Alliance and BioNet to start a phase one trial of the COVIGEN COVID-19 gene-based vaccine.

COVIGEN is a needle-free DNA-based vaccine. It will be the fifth DNA vaccine to enter trial globally and the first in Australia.

The trial will include adults and elderly who are at highest risk for severe COVID-19 disease. The trial will be based in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia with recruitment to start in late 2020.

The trial's lead investigator is Association Professor Nicholas Wood of the University of Sydney.

“This phase 1 trial will be the first DNA based COVID vaccine trial in Australia. It is an excellent partnership with Australian academics and industry supported by MRFF funding. If the trial proves the vaccine to be safe then larger phase 2 trials are planned,” said Association Professor Wood.

The vaccine has received funding from the federal government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Coronavirus Research Response (2020 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Research Grant).

Technovalia said it has been working with international partner BioNet since March 2020 on the development of gene-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates. 

It said preclinical studies have confirmed the safety and immunogenicity of COVIGEN, adding the goal of the partnership is to accelerate the development of the vaccine.

"Technovalia and BioNet have the expertise and experience required to bring a vaccine to licensure, and the capacity for large-scale production of COVIGEN vaccines in Australia," it said.

"Technovalia is collaborating with Queensland-based LuinaBio, one of Australia’s most experienced manufacturing organization on the technology transfer of the vaccine production to Australia for Australians."

”We are very pleased and proud to be able to contribute to the development of an effective solution to the crisis we have been living for many months. This is a unique collaborative effort with outstanding partners and clinicians, and most importantly, plans are being put in place with BioNet and LuinaBio to rapidly bring a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19 which can be produced in Australia,” said Laurent Dapremont, CEO of Technovalia.