Connect with us

Tech

How close is China to getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine ready?

Avatar

Published

on

Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has been developing COVID-19 vaccines from five different approaches. It has so far approved seven COVID-19 vaccines based on inactivated virus, viral vector and recombinant protein. Three of them have been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), with CanSino’s Convidecia validated on May 19.

Chinese vaccine developers are still exerting efforts to make their own messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine, the type that’s more widely embraced by other countries around the world, with at least 10 candidates in the pipeline.

CanSino and CSPC Pharmaceutical recently rolled out Phase-I and -II clinical trials for their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after obtaining approvals from the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA) in April.

Why does China want to develop its own mRNA vaccine?

mRNA was discovered in the early 1960s and research into how it could be delivered into cells began in the 1970s. It wasn’t until 1990 that mRNA flu vaccines were tested in animals, and only during the past decade did investment start to favor mRNA as a tool in the fields of vaccine development and protein replacement therapy.

However, China did not start to explore this technology until the late 2010s, and most pharmaceutical companies started from making therapeutical products, such as those for immuno-oncology, according to Wang Haomeng, the deputy general manager of CanSino (Shanghai) Biological Research Co., Ltd.

“Most mRNA technology is protected by patents owned by western enterprises as they were the first to research on it,” Wang told CGTN. “Therefore the challenges for Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises are to break through these global patent barriers, build independent intellectual property rights, and become innovative enterprises in this field.”

Wang said that for most innovative enterprises that are investing in mRNA technology, the vision is to use it well to help more countries in need, whether research is carried out in China or internationally.

Unlike other types of vaccines that use weakened or inactivated components of the virus to activate the body’s immune response, mRNA vaccines do not carry any piece of the virus. Rather, the RNA transcript is wrapped in packages that can be delivered into our body to teach our cells how to produce antibodies specific to the virus, like a messenger.

“The coronavirus outbreak actually pushed forward the technological development of mRNA in China,” Wang said, adding that the country also boosted the industry with targeted policies and updated procedure guidance from the NMPA.

The development of the mRNA vaccine platform is also important for the rapid design of antigens and potentially fast, inexpensive and scalable manufacturing, as it simply requires changes on untranslated regions'(UTRs) sequence to elicit different expressions of protein for specific purposes.

“We only need to edit on the UTRs to complete the procedure from design to verification. It’s very much like a streamlined production,” said Wang.

How are China’s mRNA COVID-19 candidates performing?

At least 10 mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are being developed in China, and all of them are still at clinical trial stages given the difficulties such as recruiting acceptable volunteers.

The first to enter Phase-III clinical trials is the two-dose ARCoV from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Suzhou Abogen Biosciences and Walvax Biotechnology. It was approved for clinical trial in June 2020, and preliminary trial data shows it to be safe, well-tolerated and effective, according to a study published on the Lancet Microbe journal in January.

Shanghai based Stemirna Therapeutics, the first biotechnology company to bring mRNA therapeutics and nanoparticle formulation platforms to China, has a candidate that has been designed to target the Delta variant of the coronavirus. It is in a mid-stage clinical trial in Laos and the company is applying for trials of an updated version that it said showed early promise against variants such as Omicron.

AIM Vaccine Corporation, after acquiring Liverna in 2021, also has a candidate that was approved for clinical trials in March 2021. The company shared its early-stage trial data analysis of its candidate LVRNA009 in January and said that it appears safe and able to trigger an immune response.

China also has the world’s first lyophilized mRNA vaccine, which was developed by Rhegen Bio. Three lyophilized vaccines targeting wild-type, Delta and Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants were found to successfully induce high-level neutralization response, according to a pre-clinical study published on the preprint server bioRxiv.

The lyophilized mRNA-LNP nanoparticle vaccine is delivered by an LNP delivery system that can remain stable between 4 to 25 degree Celsius with the company’s self-developed lyophilization technology. The vaccine can be stored and transported in conventional cold chain conditions, greatly improving accessibility.

China’s mRNA vaccines, including those from ARCoV and CanSino, are designed to remain stable between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for at least six months. The western vaccines of similar kind, including those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, can be stored at the same temperature but for only a month.

“It is particularly important to develop an mRNA vaccine that can be transported in conventional cold chain and be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, or at room temperature stably for broad application,” CanSino said.

Other candidates such as those from RiboBio, Sinopharm and RNACure, which partnered with Walvax, are at early stage or applying for clinical trials in China.

How soon can we expect mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in China?

A clinical trial involves implementation, sample evaluation and a result report that normally takes 12 to 14 months plus one year of follow-up interviews, and that’s after candidate recruitment.

“Our biggest challenge right now is to recruit ‘blank samples,'” Wang said, meaning those who have not been inoculated with any COVID-19 vaccine. It is difficult in China as nearly 90 percent of the country’s total population has been fully inoculated as of May 6, according to data released by the National Health Commission.

Like CanSino, many of the aforementioned companies have readied their mRNA vaccine production lines, but it is hard to provide an exact timeline given the uncertainties during clinical trials.

China is yet to approve any foreign-made mRNA vaccines, such as those from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

 

Source: CGTN

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

China’s first bio-aviation kerosene producer trials clean energy production

Avatar

Published

on

By

China’s leading oil producer Sinopec announced the country’s first successful trial production of bio-aviation kerosene on Tuesday, marking China’s solid step towards large-scale commercial production of aviation biofuel.

The first trial production, conducted by Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company, generated around 606 tonnes of bio-aviation kerosene, part of which will be supplied to airline companies.

Bio-aviation kerosene is produced from renewable resources such as waste cooking oil and animal and plant fat. Compared with traditional petroleum-based aviation fuel, the new biofuel can reduce CO2 emissions by over 50 percent or more throughout an airplane’s service cycle.

A view of Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company in Ningbo City of east China’s Zhejiang Province. /CMG

Self-developed high-tech project

In 2009, Sinopec started to conduct research on bio-aviation kerosene. It obtained China’s first bio-aviation kerosene airworthiness certificate in 2014, making it the first country in Asia and the fourth country in the world to have self-developed bio-aviation kerosene technology.

In August 2020, China built its first large-scale industrial plant for producing bio-aviation kerosene with a designed annual capacity of processing around 100,000 tonnes.

Huang Aibin, director of the Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company, told China Media Group (CMG) that “the amount of waste cooking oil recycled in a city with a 10 million population is about 10,000 tonnes per month. If runs at full capacity, this plant can almost digest all the recycled gutter oil of a city this size annually.”

A view of Sinopec Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Company in Ningbo City of east China’s Zhejiang Province. /CMG

Huang also mentioned the biggest difficulty is handling gutter oil as it contains a large number of fatty acid compounds, sulfur, chlorine, metal elements and other impurities, which are extremely difficult to remove. Huang’s team independently developed a special catalyst to optimize the processes of mixing, catalysis and heating.

According to data, if China replaces its current aviation kerosene of around 30 million tonnes aviation kerosene with biofuel, the country can reduce about 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to dropping driving over 30 million family economic cars for a whole year.

Source: CGTN

Continue Reading

Tech

China launches 1st 2,000-tonne offshore wind farm installation vessel

Avatar

Published

on

By

Baihetan, China’s first 2,000-tonne offshore wind farm installation vessel, was launched on Wednesday in Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong Province.

Built by China Three Gorges Corporation, the 126-meter-long, 50-meter-wide vessel has a full load displacement of 37,000 tonnes and integrates functions such as transport, self-elevation, self-propulsion, lifting and dynamic positioning.

With a maximum variable load of 6,500 tonnes and a deck area of 4,200 square meters, the vessel can be used for the installation of offshore wind turbines of up to 15 megawatts.

The vessel is able to lift goods as heavy as 2,000 tonnes and work underwater as deep as 70 meters, which greatly enhances the country’s construction and installation capacity in offshore deep-water and off-lying sea areas.

The construction of the vessel started in July 2021. It is expected to be delivered and put into operation within this year, and will be mainly operated in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, according to the company.

Source: CGTN

Continue Reading

Tech

China’s new telecom carrier launches 5G services

Avatar

Published

on

By

China Broadnet, China’s fourth telecommunication operator, has formally launched 5G services.

The launch event held at the Museum of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was attended by Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee.

The official website of China Broadnet, www.10099.com.cn, opened to the public on the same day. People can order new China Broadnet SIM cards on the site. The phone number will start with 192.

The website said the current commercial 5G service is still in the test phase, which means problems may occur to users, and the company won’t take responsibility for the consequences. The end date of the test phase has not been announced yet.

The company’s mobile service starts at 38 yuan (about $6) monthly, with 10 gigabytes of data and 50 minutes of voice calling, and goes as high as 588 yuan (about $88) with 398 GB data and 1,600 minutes of voice calling.

At this price, China Broadnet appears more cost-effective than China Mobile. But the established three carriers all offer many discounts to attract users.

The number in the website’s domain name, 10099, is also the company’s service phone number, which now provides 5G-related services.

No information about home broadband service can be found of the website as of Monday afternoon.

The service launch marks a breakthrough in the integration of national cable TV networks, and 5G integrated development and early successes in developing a new “cable plus 5G” integrated development paradigm for China’s radio and TV networks.

A key advantage of China Broadnet’s 5G is the 700 megahertz signal, which is better than the other three carriers’ services in signal strength.

Yet, the company has to build many base stations to cover the whole country. China Broadnet is cooperating with China Mobile to share base stations.

Also, the lower signal frequency will limit the max speed of China Broadnet’s 5G, which may not have a big impact on users’ choices since even 4G speed can satisfy most users for now.

With the 5G services’ launch, China Broadnet vows to speed up the development of a new-type radio and TV communication network, a national cultural network, and a national, new-type infrastructure network.

The company has rebranded as its current name and launched phone number reservations in early June.

China Broadnet was granted a 5G license for commercial use in 2019.

 

Source: CGTN

Continue Reading

Trending