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Edmonton company receives federal funds to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Click to play video 'University of Alberta team ready to begin Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine testing' University of Alberta team ready to begin Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine testing
WATCH (Sept. 28): Oncologist John Lewis and his team with Entos Pharmaceuticals at the University of Alberta have been working overtime to develop one of Canada's leading vaccine candidates. Dr. Lewis said the early results are promising so clinical trials will begin in the next few weeks — and if it proves safe, a vaccine could be ready for distribution in early 2021 – Sep 28, 2020

Entos Pharmaceuticals has been awarded federal money to conduct the phase 1 clinical trial of Covigenix, its COVID-19 DNA vaccine.

Entos 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.

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

The Alberta-based company is one of six across the country to share up to $23.2 million in funding through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).

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The federal government is also “pursuing the purchase and development of vaccines, treatments, and related supplies.”

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In a news release Friday, Entos said it is getting “advisory services” and up to $5 million from the NRC IRAP “as part of the government of Canada’s continuing support for the development of domestic COVID-19 vaccine candidates.”

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The healthcare biotechnology company has developed a Fusogenix DNA vaccine called Covigenix. In preclinical studies, the vaccine induces a “a strong neutralizing antibody response plus potent and balanced T-cell response and against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” the company said.

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The federal money will advance the vaccine research to phase 1 human clinical trials to assess its safety, Entos said. This will be done at the Clinical Trials Research Centre in Nova Scotia.

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“Entos is honoured to be one of the innovative Canadian companies receiving NRC IRAP support,” CEO John Lewis said.

“We are excited to use this funding to advance the phase 1 human clinical trial of Covigenix at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology.”

Entos continues to seek funding for phases 2 and 3 human clinical trials, to speed up manufacturing capacity, and widen distribution to reach millions around the world.

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