American biotech company Novavax said on Monday (May 25) it's begun trials for a coronavirus vaccine in Australia.
It's one of many drugmakers around the world racing to find a way to fight a pandemic that's infected over 5 million people worldwide.
Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Gregory Glenn explains.
"What we're bringing to the table is a very strong immunogenic vaccine. It gives you functional responses. We've recently seen in our animal testing a very strong, what we call neutralizing antibodies which should be protective when they're induced in humans."
The trial involves more than a hundred volunteers in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Novavax says its vaccine works by using what's called an adjuvant.
That's an agent that induces a stronger immune response to a disease by boosting production of antibodies.
Those are what provide longer-lasting protection against infection.
"So, in this virus it's unique. It has a structure on the surface that binds to a human cell and that allows it to inject it's own genetic material into that host cell and the host cell, the host cell, the human cell now becomes a virus factory. So, we're trying to block that process. If we can generate an immune response to the spike protein, which is the protein that binds the human cell, then we can disrupt infection."
Working with researchers in Melbourne, Novavax expects preliminary results from the Phase 1 clinical trial in July.
They say upon successful completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 will be conducted in several countries, including the United States.