Local biotech company working to develop potential coronavirus vaccine

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SAN DIEGO — In the global race to find a vaccine for coronavirus, there are only a few dozen companies — and two of the companies working to get to the finish line are in San Diego.

One of those companies, Arcturus Therapeutics, is using a unique approach to build its vaccine through self-replicating RNA.

Arcturus Therapeutics has been making progress toward a vaccine since late January, currently working to get its vaccine approved in Singapore under the regulatory guidance of the Health Sciences Authority. The HSA Singapore’s equivalent of the FDA in the united states.

The biotech company is also working with Duke NUS-Medical School, a partnership between Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

“We think that our technology is ideally suited to not only be effective, but work in a very, very low dose manner so that we can easily manufacture this and treat a lot of people,” Arcturus CEO Joseph Payne said.

A good visual example provided my Payne involves looking at your thumb. That’s about the amount of mRNA technology needed to vaccinate the entire county of San Diego or the city of Los Angeles, for example.

The dose is low, easily manufactured and another big factor Payne says sets Arcturus’ vaccine apart  is it has the potential to be administered as a single shot.

“You can understand why a government entity would be attracted to the logistics and simplicity of distributing a single shot versus a shot plus booster,” said Payne.

Another advantage of this vaccine is that it is anti-viral, meaning it doesn’t carry any virus or viral material.

By summer, Payne estimates there should be about 10 companies at the clinical trial stage of vaccine development and Arcturus plans to be one of them.

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