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ChulaCov19: Thai Vaccine Against Mutated Viruses

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Nature Journal of Medicine and Science interviews the founder of the Chulalongkorn Vaccine Research Center. About the COVID-19 vaccine named ChulaCov19 by Dr. Kiatrak Rungtham. The interviews are given as follows.

Thailand is in the process of adopting a novel coronavirus vaccine. 19 Type mRNA The first to be tested in humans If this vaccine is successful Thailand could be an exporter of vaccines to the Asian market.

Last year the vaccine was released. mRNA From research by companies such as Pfizer from New York City Biontec from Germany And Modena from the stateMassachusetts These vaccines have been confirmed to fight COVID. 19 Effectively And has already been distributed among hundreds of millions of people

In Asia China India And Japan Is a prototype vaccine country and conducts experiments on vaccines. mRNA Continuously But due to the urgency of the shortage of vaccines and the number of people infected with the COVID virus. 19 Continuously increasing in South Asia And Southeast Asia Thailand has become a new producer of vaccines to export to neighboring countries. And use it within the country itself Because the number of infected people in Thailand now per day is skyrocketing 3,500 people It is the highest peak since the outbreak of this virus.

Nature Interviewed an immunologist Prof.MD.honor Rak Rungtham Founder of the Chulalongkorn Vaccine Research Center Chulalongkorn University About the Covid Vaccine 19 Name ChulaCov19

Question: What makes Doing your own vaccine trial?

Answer: Back then, the H1N1 influenza pandemic was 1999-2000 in Thailand, it took more than a year to get the vaccine. Therefore, in this outbreak Thailand therefore wants to produce and develop its own vaccines. So that we don’t have to wait any longer Even if we are unable to produce the vaccine in time for the first pandemic, we should be able to develop it in time for the new virus strains that spread in the latter waves. Our goal is to produce enough vaccines to meet the needs of Thailand. And neighboring countries as well And it is a tangible price for all people

Question: How do you do experiments using mRNA technology?

Answer: I have established a specialized vaccine research laboratory about 10 years ago, the research center developed a vaccine for the treatment of leptospirosis, leptospirosis, cancer using various modern technology and in 2017 We invited the first mRNA technology developer Drievezman from the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, USA, to speak at the research center’s annual debate. But when the coronavirus outbreak occurs. The research center then turned to the development of an antiviral vaccine instead.

The hallmark of mRNA vaccines is that they can be produced in large and fast doses. Resulting in lower long-term production costs These vaccines contain a small piece of the genetic material, mRNA, to tell cells to make a specific protein, like the spike protein SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter the body cells. These vaccines were able to develop themselves rapidly using viral genome sequencing. That means We do not have to wait for the new virus to enter Thailand to develop a vaccine.

Question: The progress of this experiment.

ANSWER: ChulaCov’s results are promising from clinical studies. That has not been officially published From experiments in rodents and mammal models. We plan to do Phase I trials in real humans in June. We have also developed a new vaccine against the B.1.351 and B.1.1.7 strains, and of course the team is keeping a close eye on the B.1.617 strain of Indian origin. On the research center side, it is very grateful to have operated this far. But it still takes more than a year to work on real humans, a move behind the major global pharmaceutical companies.

Question: How are the experiments planned now?

A: The first phase of the trial (Phase 1) will be conducted on 100 humans to find vaccines suitable for the immune system. US biotech companies may be producing the first generation of the mRNA vaccine, but by September. Thailand is dependent on the vaccine production of BioNet-Asia, located in Bangkok.

Question: What is the most challenging thing at the moment?

Answer: Of course funding is the biggest problem right now. Because we are an academic research center Our main income comes from the government. And as of May 2020, our research center has found quite interesting clinical results. But it took up to 6 months to get funding for real human trials. It also takes time to teach manufacturers of vaccines in Thailand.

Question: Do you think you will benefit from the COVID-19 vaccine patent exemption?

Answer: If the COVID-19 vaccine patent protection waiver agreement is entered into in low and middle income countries, It would be very good Because it will allow us to use technology that is currently expensive or difficult to access. This results in better performance and lower cost of our vaccines. Still, patent exemptions are still the first step. Our research center still needs funding. Production capacity in the local area And access to important raw materials

Question: How do you get vaccinated without resorting to late-stage trials?

Answer: World Health Organization U.S. National Institutes of Health And many other organizations around the world We are working to identify the level of neutral antibodies that the vaccine should stimulate to provide adequate protection. This protection It is used to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine without relying on late-stage trials. This is not the same as a cold vaccine that requires late-stage trials. We also request blood samples from people who have been vaccinated with Pfizer-Biotech from Singapore and Malaysia. And blood samples of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccine people from Thailand At the same time, if the immune level from the samples in the Chula vaccine tested was equal or better. Other vaccines for which a sample is requested It could also make the Thai vaccine approved for use in emergency situations without it through late-stage trials or Phase III trials.

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