Concept: Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago and Glaxo Smithkine (GSK) has developed adjuvanted plant-based COVID-19 vaccine in combination with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant. Their global Phase 3 placebo-controlled efficacy study results have shown positive efficacy and safety results.

Nature of Disruption: The late-stage research began in March with approximately 24,000 individuals aged 18 and up from Canada, the US, the UK, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Medicago employs GSK’s adjuvant to increase the efficiency of its vaccine. The vaccine is made with virus-like particles, which have the same structure as the coronavirus but don’t contain any of its genetic information. It uses exclusive technology for creating Virus-Like Particles (VLP) for protein vaccinations. VLPs are engineered to look like viruses in their natural state, allowing the immune system to recognize them more easily. VLPs are non-infectious and unable to multiply because they lack core genetic material. Two doses of 3.75 micrograms of antigen in combination with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant are given intramuscularly 21 days apart in the vaccination regimen. The vaccine can be stored at temperatures ranging from 2-8 degrees Celsius, allowing it to be distributed using traditional vaccine supply and cold chain channels. The duo claims that Medicago’s plant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, enhanced by GSK booster is 75.3% effective against the Delta variant of the virus and 88.6% effective against the Gamma variant.

Outlook: The combination of GSK’s pandemic adjuvant with Medicago’s plant-based vaccination technology boasts to have the potential to be a very effective, refrigerator-stable solution for helping individuals protect themselves against SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine’s overall success rate against all coronavirus variations is claimed to be 71%, according to the researchers, except for Omicron, which was not in circulation at the time the trial was conducted. As part of their rolling submission, Medicago plans to seek regulatory approval from Health Canada for the world’s first plant-based COVID-19 vaccine. Medicago’s proposal for a real-time evaluation of the only home-grown COVID-19 vaccine to reach the most advanced stage of testing was accepted by the Canadian health agency in April 2021. The clinical study results demonstrated the effectiveness of plant-based vaccine production technology. If approved, the duo could be helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by developing the world’s first plant-based vaccine for human use.

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