Human trials for Thai mRNA Covid-19 vaccine to begin in June

The human trials for Thailand’s first mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, developed by researchers at Chulalongkorn University, is about to launch this month, a Chulalongkorn official told Thai Enquirer on Wednesday.

“This is a vaccine produced in-house by the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University,” said Dr Unnop Jaisamran, the Associate Dean for International Affairs at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. 

“Now it is entering its Phase I trial, which will test the vaccine on volunteer subjects for immunity and appropriate dosage,” he said.

Dr Kiat Ruxrungtham, the founder of the Chula Vaccine Research Center (Chula VRC) spoke with Nature magazine earlier on May 26 about the development of the vaccine, ChulaCov19, and its readiness to enter human clinical trials, or Phase I, in June, which will include around 100 people.

Chula VCR, which had been developing vaccines against cancer, dengue fever, as well as mRNA technology against allergies, began working on designing an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine since the pandemic first hit.

ChulaCov19 was then developed by the center in collaboration with Professor Dr Drew Weissman, a pioneer in mRNA technology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

The vaccines had received positive pre-clinical results as early as May 2020 but has only just progressed to human trials.

One of the biggest positive factors in producing mRNA vaccines is that they are quicker to produce and can be made in large quantities, which will ultimately help reduce cost in the long run.

They can also be “developed rapidly using information about a virus’s genomic sequence, which means that we don’t need to wait until emerging variants enter Thailand to begin developing vaccines against them,” Dr Kiat told Nature. 

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna which requires a deep-freeze and special kind of storage, the ChulaCov19 can be stored at a normal refrigerator temperature of 2-8 degrees celsius, for at least one month.

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