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COVID-19 vaccine developed by UB startup approved for human trials

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Posted at 4:41 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 17:47:56-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A COVID-19 vaccine developed in Western New York has been approved for human trials.

The vaccine, EuCorVac-19, was development by UB startup company POP Biotechnologies.

"It's a really important moment in any pharmaceutical company's development life cycle. It takes up from being a pre-clinical company to a clinical company," said Jonathan Smyth, POP Biotechnologies President.

It caught the eye of South Korean biotech company EuBiologics, which invested $3 million dollars into the effort.

The vaccine does not have to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. EuCorVac-19 also targets specific parts of the virus.

"All the current vaccines are targeting the whole, what's called the spike protein. So the whole protein on the spike, so we're just targeting the very critical part of the spike protein," Johnathan Lovell, Co-founder of POP Biotechnologies and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UB.

Lovell said the trial began on Tuesday in South Korea, where 50 healthy adults were given the vaccine.

"We're really just hoping that we see positive findings so we can move forward rapidly. The clinical studies have a very fast timeline because of the imminent need for more vaccines," said Smyth.

The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety approved a combined phase 1 and 2 clinical trial in January, after generating strong immune responses in animal models.

"We showed in mice that the immunogenicity was very promising," said Lovell.

In the second phase, the number of participants will go up to 230 adults to further evaluate immune response and dosage.

The goal is to begin a phase 3 trial, which would be more wide-scale, later this year.