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South Korea’s Genexine Begins Human Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine

Biotech firm Genexine Inc. has launched a human trial of an experiment COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea.

Genexine said it enrolled the trial’s first participants today, June 19, and it expects preliminary data on safety and drug tolerance, and immune response from the trial in September. It is the first company in the country to test such a vaccine candidate for people.

Shares in Genexine jumped more than 14%.

“If everything goes as planned, we aim to complete all stages of our human clinical trial by the end of 2021,” said a Genexine official.

Executive Vice President in charge of Genexine’s development division Woo Jung-won, told Reuters the trial follows “positive results of our DNA vaccine in animal tests, including primates”.

The phase-one trial will involve 40 healthy participants, with a second phase to be conducted in the second half of the year with 150 participants in countries including Indonesia and Thailand, a Genexine official told Reuters.

The project is a collaboration among the International Vaccine Institute, drug manufacturer Binex Co. Ltd., and biotech firm GenNBio Inc. as well as the state-run Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology and Pohang University of Science & Technology.

The World Health Organization website lists 13 experimental COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being tested on humans.

South Korean pharmaceutical maker Celltrion Inc. said early this month it aimed to start an in-human COVID-19 drug trial in July. Others including SK Bioscience and Green Cross Corp. have said they are at the beginning stage of Covid-19 vaccine development.

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