This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. (The Canadian Press/AP-NIAID-RML via AP)

Canadian COVID-19 vaccine begins clinical trials in Australia

Canadian biotechnology company Symvivo Corporation says it has begun a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Australia.

The British Columbia-based company specializing in gene therapy announced Monday the enrollment and dosing of the first healthy volunteer with its bacTRL-Spike oral vaccine candidate.

“The rapidly advancing pandemic mandates innovative scientific approaches and we believe a safe, protective oral vaccine could transform the landscape of traditional vaccination approaches, eliminating the need for syringes, needles, and trained vaccinators,” said Dr. Eric Sievers, Chief Medical Officer of Symvivo Corporation.

The Phase 1 trial is being conducted in partnership with Nucleus Network in Brisbane, Australia.

The study will evaluate safety and preliminary evidence of immunogenicity to SARS CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – elicited by bacTRL-Spike among healthy volunteers. Preliminary data are anticipated in early 2021.

The Burnaby-based company announced in October that it has received advisory services and funding of up to $2.8 million from the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to support the clinical advancement of its vaccine candidate.

Alexander Graves, president and CEO of Symvivo Corporation, said unlike traditional vaccines, bacTRL-Spike is a capsule that can be taken orally, allowing individuals to self-administer the vaccine rather than requiring a trained medical professional to deliver it with an injection. In addition, the capsules can also be stored at room temperature.

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