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‘Very exciting’ development in Australian quest for COVID-19 vaccine

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Researchers have started to recruit healthy volunteers to participate in human trials of the University of Queensland’s (UQ) COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers have started to recruit healthy volunteers to participate in human trials of the University of Queensland's (UQ) COVID-19 vaccine.

The phase one trial will test the vaccine's safety and monitor its impact on the immune system.

Associate Professor Paul Griffin, medical director of clinical trial company Nucleus Network, said today marked a major milestone.

"It is very exciting that today we have been able to start recruitment for our vaccine that is being manufactured right here in Queensland," Dr Griffin said.

"To get to this point where we give any product to humans, we've got to be really confident of the safety as well as whether it is likely to work.

"That is indeed the case with this vaccine."

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Participants will be injected with a manufactured protein that closely resembles something on the surface of the virus and will not be exposed to coronavirus during the trial.

Dr Griffin said researchers needed 120 healthy participants with no prior medical conditions for the vaccine to progress to the next stage.

"We are looking for healthy people, 18 to 55 (years old) and they'll come into our unit, be carefully assessed, then receive the vaccine both on day one and then four weeks later," he said.

"We will monitor them very carefully throughout and see if the vaccine works.

"Without volunteers we can't progress with the development of these vaccines."

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Most participants will get the vaccine but about a quarter of the volunteers will be given a placebo so the two groups can be compared.

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UQ began developing its COVID-19 vaccine in January and achieved proof-of-concept just three weeks later.

Read more: Queensland vaccine shows promising test results

The vaccine has been developed using UQ's patented "molecular clamp" technology which just requires the virus' genetic sequence - not the virus itself.

The fast-tracked research is being hailed as a major step forward in the global race for a vaccine.

Dr Griffin said the research appeared "really promising".

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"The University of Queensland scientists who came up with the very clever technique of making a vaccine that sounds really promising so to be able to take that into the clinic and give that to people is really exciting."

Once recruitment is completed, trials are expected to begin in July.

Just yesterday scientists at Imperial College London announced their first clinical trials of a potential vaccine would begin this week.  

To participate in the Brisbane-based trial go to the Nucleus Network Facebook page or follow this link.

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Source: 9News

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