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At least 6 companies working on COVID vaccines in San Diego

Research clustered near 5-805 split
Research on remdesivir enters new phase
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 24, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — At least six companies are working on COVID-19 vaccine candidates in San Diego, all within a 1.5-mile radius of where the I-5 and I-805 split.

Locally, the farthest along appears to be Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which plans to launch a Phase 2 trial next month, potentially with a simultaneous Phase 3 trial. A Phase 3 trial is the final step in vaccine testing, with thousands of participants.

The company is developing the vaccine using a DNA technique that isn’t used in any other vaccines on the market, although some are in the final stages of testing, said Dr. Kate Broderick, who leads Inovio’s vaccine program.

To ensure the DNA enters a person’s cells, the company uses a proprietary device about the size of a toothbrush to deliver doses into the skin rather than a needle and syringe. The company announced Tuesday it secured a $71 million grant from the Department of Defense to speed up production of the devices.

Just down the street, TriLink Biotechnologies is working with researchers in London on a vaccine candidate that replicates itself in the body. It just started a Phase 1 trial this month.

Nearby, Sorrento Therapeutics is working on both a COVID-19 vaccine and a treatment, but it hasn’t advanced yet to human trials. 10News previously featured the company’s efforts, which are based on techniques developed to fight cancer.

On the other side of the 805, Arcturus Therapeutics is working with Duke University on a vaccine based on RNA, which acts as a messenger for DNA. There are no vaccines approved for humans that use this RNA approach. Trials are expected to begin in August, according to a tracker by the Milken Institute.

UC San Diego is developing a vaccine using plant virus nanotechnology, leveraging an approach that’s used in vaccines against Hepatitis B and shingles. The university is also taking part in research on a COVID treatment.

A spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Vir Biotechnology says the company is using its San Diego satellite office to help crunch data for the work on its vaccine, which is a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK, Janssen, and Pfizer each have vaccine candidates of their own and offices near the 5-805 split, but 10News was not able to immediately confirm if any of those companies were conducting COVID research locally.