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‘Maximum protection’: Alberta company developing COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. John Lewis, CEO of Entos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. .
Dr. John Lewis, CEO of Entos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. . Entos Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Entos Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections — and it could be ready in less than a year.

The Edmonton-based company is led by Dr. John Lewis, a University of Alberta researcher who is world-renowned for his team’s work on prostate cancer detection, progression and drug delivery.

Entos is creating a DNA-based vaccine which would protect against multiple components of the new coronavirus for “maximum protection.”

Unlike a traditional vaccine which gives patients a weakened or inactive virus to provoke an immune response, Lewis said the Entos product would deliver battle instructions.

“We can just give the DNA instructions for our own cells to make [novel coronavirus] proteins, to make part of the virus, and then have our body create our own therapeutic vaccine,” Lewis told Global News.
“[Your cells] can make some of these proteins right inside your body and create that immune response.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Edmonton nurses refuse to administer COVID-19 tests over personal health concerns

The Entos CEO says the method, named Fusogenix, has several advantages: stronger defense, a more stable vaccine and the ability to make a lot of product quickly.

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“Because we’re just using DNA which we can also manufacture at large scale, we can very quickly go from creating a vaccine in a lab where we’re making just a few drops or a vial of it – to scaling it up to hundreds and hundreds of litres,” said Lewis.

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The company plans to have a candidate vaccine ready within a few weeks, and is now in talks with potential partners to fast-track it to human trials.

READ MORE: Canada to spend $192M on developing COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada is spending $192 million on developing and producing vaccines for the new coronavirus.

Trudeau said being prepared to mass-produce a vaccine will be essential for suppressing COVID-19 in the long run.