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UAB to begin preclinical testing of potential COVID-19 vaccine

A research scientist working in his laboratory with a sample or specimen and an image of the Wuhan Coronavirus displayed on a computer screen.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is putting six labs to work testing a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the university announced Monday. 

Scientists at UAB will be conducting preclinical testing on mice of Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Altimmune’s vaccine called AdCOVID. Once that testing is complete the company could begin testing on humans later this year, according to a press release from UAB. 

“This project will be our highest priority for the group in the next few months as the goal is to get the data to Altimmune as rapidly as possible, so that they will use the information gained from the preclinical study to design their clinical trial in people,” said Frances Lund, the Charles H. McCauley Professor and Chair for the UAB Department of Microbiology, in a statement. “The expertise and infrastructure at UAB will be invaluable to the rapid progression of this vaccine into clinical studies.” 

According to the statement the Maryland company believes that if the AdCOVID vaccine candidate is as stable as the company’s influenza and anthrax vaccines candidates, it may allow “inexpensive and efficient distribution of the millions of doses needed for widespread vaccination of populations.” 

Attempts to reach a spokesman at Altimmune weren’t immediately successful Monday morning. 

“It is critical that the biotechnology industry and academic institutions work together to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and UAB is an ideal partner to support us in this effort,” said Vipin K. Garg, president and chief executive officer of Altimmune in a statement. “UAB has an impressive track record of cutting-edge research in virology and immunology, as well as in the clinical development of vaccines. In fact, Altimmune was founded through a technology license from UAB in 1997. We are excited to collaborate with UAB in our efforts, and we look forward to addressing this crisis together.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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