An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany, on 12 March 2020
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany, on 12 March 2020Reuters

German biotech company CureVac said on Friday its potential vaccine against the coronavirus triggered an immune response in pre-clinical animal studies.

The Tuebingen-based company, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the potential vaccine, known as CVnCoV, produced neutralising antibodies and activated T-cells in hamsters and mice.

CureVac is using the so-called messenger RNA approach, the same as rivals BioNTech and its partner Pfizer as well as Moderna, which have started testing on humans.

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CureVac said the vaccine also reduced the levels of replicating virus in the upper respiratory tract and protected the lungs of hamsters when they were exposed to a live virus.

“The pre-clinical data published today show that our COVID-19 vaccine candidate has the potential to induce an efficacious and balanced immune response, mimicking the natural immune defence and providing lung protection in a relevant challenge model,” said CureVac chief technology officer Mariola Fotin-Mleczek.

Shares in CureVac were up 7.8 per cent at 1148 GMT.

The potential vaccine is currently being tested in humans in early and mid-stage trials, and CureVac said it expected to publish interim Phase I data shortly.

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