Turkish COVID-19 vaccines ready for human trials

Turkish COVID-19 vaccines ready for human trials

Three inactive coronavirus vaccine candidates developed in Turkey have pending permits for human trials, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced. In a statement following a meeting with the scientists behind the vaccine studies, health authorities and the president of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK), which oversees the vaccine development, Koca said vaccine candidates had applied for approval to Turkey Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Institution (TITCK), Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.

There are currently 17 vaccine candidates in development in the country. "We have one inactive vaccine candidate set to start Phase 2 human trials and scientists are working to ready it for Phase 3 trilals in April. We also have three inactive vaccine candidates in Phase 1 human trials. TİTCK will now analyze them for approval for human trials," Koca said in a written statement late Tuesday.

Inactive vaccines are based on traditional vaccine technology that uses inactivated coronavirus strains that cannot replicate in human cells to trigger an immune response. Last month, the country received its first shipment of CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine developed by China's Sinovac, and plans have been made to inoculate the population in a few weeks after the final analysis of the vaccine that has gone through human trials in the country throughout the past few months.

Along with inactive vaccines, two adenovirus-based vaccines wrapped up pre-clinical trials and applied to TİTCK. Adenovirus-based vaccines use a virus called adenovirus to carry genetic material from the new coronavirus' protein into the human body, a method also used by researchers at the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for their vaccine candidate. Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, which Turkey once considered to jointly produce with Russia, is also adenovirus-based.

Koca said a Virus-Like Particle (VLP) vaccine, which is unique in the world, has reached the level of production for research and application for testing on humans soon. VLP vaccines depend on molecules that resemble viruses but are non-infectious as they do not contain any viral genetic material. They are derived from synthesized viral structural proteins or through their natural development. They are more suitable for people with weaker immunity according to studies. "We have more vaccines in development and in pre-clinical trials," Koca said.

The country set up a COVID-19 platform in the early days of the outbreak to develop drugs and vaccines against the virus, under the supervision of TÜBITAK. ERUCOV-VAC, developed by scientists at Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri, moved to the human trial phase in November. TÜBITAK's platform – which brings together hundreds of researchers from 25 universities, public research bodies and private firms – includes 17 projects on medicine and vaccines against the virus.

The minister said authorities examined all facilities with the capacity to produce vaccines and issued Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificates. "All our agencies are working hard to ready our vaccine candidates. Our country has the scientific capacity to research and develop all types of vaccines. I believe the scientific and technical infrastructure we have and the endeavor of our scientists will create the best vaccines. All public resources are mobilized for vaccine candidates and their availability for the wider public," he said.

Last month, authorities have announced that four vaccines developed in the country have successfully passed animal trials and were headed for Phase 2 clinical trials.

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