An Edmonton Lab Is Working On A Cheap Vaccine & They Could Start Testing This Year
Through the power of DNA. 🧬
Researchers worldwide are racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19, but progress seems slow. Now, one Edmonton lab is joining the fray, with a new COVID-19 vaccine that they say will be cheaper and faster to produce than the rest. By using DNA technology, they say their method could also be safer and more stable than regular vaccines.
Entos Pharmaceuticals normally works on gene therapies for cancer research, but with the global pandemic, they're pivoting to crafting a COVID-19 vaccine instead.*
Entos CEO John Lewis spoke to Narcity about the vaccine and said that they'll be ready and looking to start human testing in just three to four weeks.
"We think the platform is exceptionally safe," said Lewis, promising that his lab's DNA vaccine is safer than traditional vaccines because it does not use infectious virus parts.
However, his research is not without challenges. As they're a cancer research lab, they've had to adjust to making vaccines instead.
"We're looking for resources from the federal and provincial governments, and basically anywhere we can find, to ramp up our manufacturing to meet this challenge," Lewis told Narcity.
One of the best advantages of his new method, said Lewis, is that DNA vaccines are "definitely going to be more inexpensive than" traditional vaccines.
This method uses DNA — basically a blueprint for proteins — and sneaks it inside our cells, according to a press release.
The DNA then makes proteins found on the viruses that cause COVID-19.
Human immune cells can learn what these proteins look like, so if bodies become infected by the virus that causes COVID-19, the immune system is able to find and stop it.
In this way, he explained that these treatments are safer than the traditional method of exposing the body to deactivated viruses, which can sometimes cause illness.
By using DNA, instead of pieces of dead viruses like some other vaccines, their methods are "much, much cheaper to manufacture than RNA" vaccines, said Lewis to the Edmonton Sun.
This also means that once they've made the vaccine, they'll be able to scale up production super quickly and get more people vaccinated faster, Lewis continued to the Sun.
Plus, Lewis also told Folio that the lab's "within two months" of finding a "lead candidate" vaccine. That means that in two months, they'll have made a vaccine that works in theory, and would just need to test its effectiveness on people.
"Once we have that it’s a race to get it into clinical trials," continued Lewis to Folio.
Entos isn't the only group working on the vaccine effort; earlier, a team in Saskatchewan just started.
Canadian researchers are working hard to tackle this global crisis from many angles. Fromto innovate new vaccines, there is a lot for us to be proud of.
*This article has been updated.