Een coronavaccin met injectienaald (Foto: ANP)

UMCG is looking for volunteers to test the US Corona vaccine (update)

The vaccine has already been tested in animals, and UMCG is now running To investigate How safe is the drug for humans.

The company previously worked with UMCG

According to project leader Go van Dam, the Americans ended up at the Groningen Vaccine Research Hospital thanks to a previous collaboration with the company.

“That’s why they called us last year to ask if we wanted to do this project.” Van Damme says the Netherlands’ reputation for drug production also plays a role. ‘It’s really good. Also in Groningen. Moreover, we have a large number of potential participants in the North.

From surgeon to drug developer
Project leader Jo Van Damme worked as a surgeon at UMCG, but in recent years he has focused on developing innovative drugs. He does this with his own company TracerIt has offices in the city (next to UMCG) and New York. UMCG hired him to study vaccination.

What is in the US vaccine?

Study participants will be given the AKS-452 vaccine developed by Akson. This consists of part coronavirus, spike protein, and part human antibody protein. The vaccine is contained in a liquid that strengthens the immune response. With this technique, a natural reaction to a viral infection is mimicked and the immune system is stimulated.

When approved, the company could produce 1 billion doses of it in three to four months

Joe Van Damme – Leader of the UMCG Vaccine Research Project

Quickly mass production

“The advantage of this type of vaccine is that it does not contain any genetic material from the virus, and thus it is impossible for the virus to replicate in the body,” writes UMCG. According to the hospital, the US vaccine has already been tested extensively in animal trials. “It has been shown to be effective and safe in this.”

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Another big advantage of this vaccine, according to Van Dam, is that it can be produced in large quantities quickly. If approved, the company could produce 1 billion doses of it in three to four months. This makes it more readily available to people around the world. “

Who can apply?

Not everyone can Register as a test taker For the vaccine. UMCG is looking for 176 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65. They must not have been infected with the Coronavirus before. People who have already been vaccinated cannot participate, either.

According to Van Dam, the fact that people over the age of 65 are ineligible is a conscious choice: “ We first wanted to reach the age of 85, but these patients are more at risk. If this is safe, we can raise the minimum age in the second phase.

One shot might suffice

Because UMCG research consists of two steps. First, it is examined whether the vaccine provides adequate immunity with just one injection. “This may have been the case,” Van Damme says. But to assess this, this was tested in sixty volunteers, half of whom received one injection and the other half received two injections.

In the second phase, studies determine the correct dose. This is done with the help of 116 people who have been tested. After participating in the study, the participants reserve the right to be vaccinated with another Coronavirus vaccine.

Disturbances due to AstraZeneca vaccine

In recent weeks, there has been concern about the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose intake has been suspended after reports of serious side effects. Van Damme realizes that this may make people anxious to participate in the study. However, developing a vaccine doesn’t happen overnight, he says.

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Vaccines under a magnifying glass. We only vaccinate healthy people, but you don’t know if there are side effects until you test them. It contradicts that vaccines are coming to market very quickly. The authorities and scientists are investing a lot of money in developing it quickly. However, this never happens outside of safety requirements. This also applies to our vaccine.

What do we know about the US vaccine manufacturer?
The American company Axton Biological Sciences Based in Beverly, Massachusetts, it specializes in designing novel fusion proteins to develop and manufacture novel biological therapies for preventing type 1 diabetes, long-acting insulin therapy, and vaccines. The AKS-452 vaccine is based on this technology.

The letter was supplemented with quotes from project leader Jo Van Damme.

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