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Singapore-Arcturus coronavirus vaccine candidate on track for 2021 delivery

Arcturus Therapeutics is co-developing a vaccine candidate for Covid-19 in collaboration with Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, called ARCT-021.

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A Covid-19 vaccine candidate co-developed by Singapore scientists has shown positive interim results and could be available as early as 2021.

That’s according to American biopharmaceutical firm Arcturus Therapeutics, which is working with scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, to develop the vaccine.

Early this month, Arcturus announced positive interim clinical study results from its ongoing Phase 1/2 study of its vaccine candidate, ARCT-021.

“One of the unique advantages of the Arcturus vaccine is that it’s a low-dose vaccine, projected to be 7.5 micrograms, which is a much smaller dose than other vaccine prospects currently being evaluated,” Joseph Payne, President and CEO of Arcturus Therapeutics, told CNBC in an interview two weeks ago.

He highlighted that this could possibly yield more doses in each manufacturing run, that will in turn save time and money.

The vaccine is on track to be shipped in early 2021, Arcturus said in a press release.

Advantages of the vaccine

Arcturus’s vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) technology — a novel approach to vaccines which scientists hope will trigger the immune system to fight the virus. It is the same approach used by high-profile vaccine prospects of other American pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer.

The Arcturus vaccine can be delivered as a single or multiple-dose.

Other vaccine candidates from both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses to be effective.

“We believe that our vaccine candidate could be an important contribution to controlling the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steve Hughes, chief development officer of Arcturus in the release. “In the coming weeks, we expect to complete our discussions with regulatory authorities and we are working with urgency to advance ARCT-021 into later stage studies.”

Clinical trials since July

Delivery by early 2021

If there’s one silver lining with this pandemic, it’s the amount of capital that’s been provided and focused on innovation and science and research development. And this will generate some advances in the field.

Joseph Payne

President and CEO, Arcturus Therapeutics

Other countries are also in talks with Arcturus for potential vaccine purchases, including Israel, with a purchase agreement of up to $275 million.

Shipments are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021. “Our manufacturing horizon is looking very promising. We’re in very good shape,” Payne said. “We have a manufacturing process that’s robust and scalable.”

Currently, Arcturus is working with regulatory agencies for approval, and will manufacture the vaccine in both the U.S. and Europe when it is approved. Leading pharmaceutical manufacturing organization Recipharm has recently come on board to manufacture the vaccine.

Importance of solidarity in vaccine trials 

With numerous global Covid-19 vaccine trials going on, Payne emphasized the importance of advancing science for the greater good. 

“I’m definitely cheering the other mRNA companies,” Payne said. “I want them to succeed, to not only help, but advance the science with this new cutting-edge mRNA vaccine technology.”

“If there’s one silver lining with this pandemic, it’s the amount of capital that’s been provided and focused on innovation and science and research development. And this will generate some advances in the field.”

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