Medical startup AnGes Inc. said Tuesday it has begun Japan's first clinical test on humans of a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus at an Osaka hospital.
The test at Osaka City University Hospital will run through July 31 next year, AnGes said. The startup has said it hopes to earn the government's authorization to manufacture and sell the DNA vaccine by the spring to fall of next year.
In the test, AnGes will divide healthy adults into two teams of 15, with one group being injected with larger amounts of the vaccine than the other. Each person will receive two intramuscular shots of the vaccine two weeks apart.
The vaccine AnGes has developed will inject a genetically engineered circular DNA into the body that produces "spike proteins," which are a characteristic of the coronavirus, according to the company. When such proteins are made, the body's immune system is stimulated to make antibodies against the virus.
AnGes joins some 17 clinical tests of coronavirus vaccine candidates being conducted globally, including by U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc., British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca PLC and China's CanSino Biologics Inc., as the race accelerates.
In Japan, Shionogi & Co. is also developing a vaccine but has yet to start a clinical test on humans.
Given the expected surge in demand, Japan is seeking to secure a stable supply of vaccines for people in the country. The government is pushing for homegrown vaccines and also negotiating with foreign companies such as AstraZeneca in an attempt to secure enough vaccines.