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Janssen Pharmaceutica to test candidate corona vaccine on humans in July

Belgium’s Janssen Pharmaceutica is to start testing a potential corona vaccine on humans as early as the second half of July. The clinical tests were planned for September but because research is steaming ahead they are being brought forward.  Some of the tests will be carried out in Belgium.  There’s a real chance this will lead to the development of a corona vaccine during the first half of next year.

Janssen Pharmaceutica’s parent, Johnson & Johnson is bringing forward the tests because preclinical lab tests were so promising.  1,045 adults aged between 18 and 55 as well as some seniors will test the recombination vaccine Ad26.COV2-6.  The vaccine is produced using a special DNA recombination technique.  Scientists build several of the virus’s genes in a guest cell.  The genes possess the code of proteins that stimulate your resistance.  The guest cells then produce and purify the proteins.  The proteins then form the basis for the recombination vaccine that should build up resistance in your body.

The test will involve some volunteers receiving the vaccine and others getting a placebo.  Neither the researchers nor the volunteers will initially know who gets what. The test will probe safety, the vaccine’s ability to trigger a reaction and the response of the immune system.

Together with partners Johnson & Johnson is investing in technology and capacity to produce the vaccine on a large scale. It plans to supply a billion vaccines next year. Talks are underway to bring forward a following test phase that will involve even more volunteers. Johan Van Hoof, head of Jansen Pharmaceutica’s vaccine department, believes the company could have developed an effective and safe vaccine by the first half of next year.

“We started with twelve potential vaccines last January.  Quick progress and excellent results in animals have allowed us to select one final candidate vaccine sooner than we expected.  There’s been good co-operation from drug authorities and lawmakers”.