Newswise — November 18, 2021 – Chulalongkorn University held Chula The Impact 5 Seminar on “The Progress on ChulaCov19 — an mRNA vaccine by Thais — the World’s Hope“. Also discussed was the progress of Chula-Baiya, Thailand’s first protein subunit vaccine from tobacco leaves by Baiya Phytofarm Co., Ltd., and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University. Prof Dr. Bundhit Eua-arporn, Chula President gave the opening remarks and joined the discussion with the panel including Prof. Kiat Ruxrungtham, M.D., Executive Director of the COVID-19 Vaccine Development Project, Chula Vaccine Research Center (CVRC), and Asst. Prof. Dr. Suthira Taychakhoonavudh, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and CEO & Co-Founder of Baiya Phytofarm Co., Ltd. the developer of the Chula-Baiya vaccine.
Prof. Dr. Kiat said that the clinical trials Phase 1 and 2 of ChulaCov19 are now done. Preliminary results show the volunteers to develop good immunity with only mild to moderate side effects which improved within 1-2 days. The FDA has already given the green light to Phase 3 human trial, which will also be benchmarked against the Pfizer vaccine for efficacy and safety. The trial will start in early 2022 and is expected to be complete in March. Tests in younger volunteers, preparation for mass production in collaboration with Bionet-Asia Co., Ltd., as well as preparation for Gen 2 and 3 vaccines that respond well to mutated strains are also underway. These next generations of vaccines have already been tested in lab animals.
ChulaCov19 vaccine can boost the immune system, and prevent cross-infection in both B Cells and T Cells — twice higher than the Pfizer vaccine. The vaccine design is different from the existing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines to avoid copyright issues, and its encasing is using the latest technology. ChulaCov19 can be stored for 3 months at 2-8 degrees Celsius which is longer than its counterparts. With a 2.3-billion-baht budget, mass production of the vaccine is estimated to be in June-September 2022 after the FDA approval.
On the progress of Chula-Baiya Vaccine, Asst. Prof. Dr. Suthira said that this protein subunit vaccine from N. benthamiana tobacco leaves uses a recombinant protein production with genetically-altered pathogenic bacteria in tobacco leaves. Currently, the industrial-grade vaccine factory, with a monthly capacity of 1-5 million doses is complete. Phase 1 clinical trials started on September 27 and no worrisome side effects have been found in volunteers, but the efficacy and safety of the vaccine are pending the data. Phase 2 trial is underway. Meanwhile, a second-generation vaccine is being developed from more than 10 strains of mutated viruses to combine into a cocktail vaccine. Phase 1 clinical trial on volunteers is expected in January 2022. The best vaccine will be selected for Phase 2 trials in February. Chula-Baiya vaccine can be approved for use in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2022.