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Crop Biotech Update

Medicago Announces Positive Results of Trials for its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

May 20, 2020

Biopharmaceutical company Medicago announced on May 14, 2020, that its vaccine candidate for COVID-19 induced a positive antibody response only 10 days after a single dose in mice. In early March, the company produced a Virus-Like Particle (VLP) of the coronavirus just 20 days after obtaining the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence and quickly initiated pre-clinical testing. Medicago uses proprietary plant-based technology to develop protein-based therapeutics. Instead of traditional vaccine development, the company uses VLPs that mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus.

These positive results are pivotal to initiate a clinical study in healthy volunteers, according to Nathalie Landry, Executive Vice-President Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago. Once results from a second ‘boost' dose are available, Medicago will then submit a clinical trial application to Health Canada and an investigational new drug submission with the FDA in the United States to allow for the initiation of human clinical trials this summer.

Though the precise dosage for the vaccine in humans is not yet determined, Medicago estimates its current facilities in Quebec and North Carolina could produce up to 20 million and 100 million annual doses, respectively, of pharmaceutical-grade COVID-19 vaccines. Millions of doses could be available by the end of the year as needed. According to Michael Schunk, the company's Executive Vice-President for Operations, Medicago is working hard to add another 20 Million doses capacity in Canada and 100M in North Carolina for 2022, ahead of the completion of their large-scale factory in Quebec in 2023, which would be able to produce more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines per year.

For more details, read the news release from Medicago.

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