A nearly empty street in Wuhan, China, at the height of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak in February. CanSino Biologics is conducting its Phase II clinical trial of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in the city of 11 million, where the virus was originally detected.

A company developing a vaccine against the virus that causes Covid-19 in China may soon take its development program to Canada.

The National Research Council of Canada said Tuesday that it had made a deal with Tianjin, China-based CanSino Biologics to advance bioprocessing and clinical development of its adenovirus vector-based vaccine against SARS-CoV2 in Canada. The vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, is an adenovirus Type 5 vector-based vaccine currently in Phase II development in Wuhan, China. CanSinoBIO and the NRC have had a relationship since 2013, and the Ad5-nCoV vaccine was developed using cell lines developed at the NRC, a federal research and development organization headquartered in Ottawa.

The NRC said CanSinoBIO was already in the process of filing for authorization from Health Canada to conduct a clinical trial there.

“It is perfect timing to leverage cutting-edge technology and resources from both sides that are critical to the development of Ad5-nCoV,” CanSinoBIO CEO Xuefeng Yu said in a statement. “We are in this global public health emergency together, and a collaboration engagement could be the shortcut to help win this race against novel coronavirus disease.”

CanSinoBIO said in an April 10 regulatory filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it planned to move Ad5-nCoV into Phase II development, and the entry for the 500-participant study on ClinicalTrials.gov indicates that it was open for recruitment on April 13. On April 20, the page was updated again to say the study was active, but no longer recruiting participants.

It is unclear whether the latest update indicates the study is already fully enrolled or stopped enrolling participants for some other reason. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The vaccine’s advancement into Phase II testing places it ahead in terms of development of the next most advanced vaccine, Moderna’s mRNA-1273. The company recently received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to move the vaccine, currently in a Phase I study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, into Phase II development, and a Phase III study is expected to start in early summer. Moderna’s vaccine uses a different mechanism, being a messenger RNA-based vaccine rather than using adenoviral vectors.

Photo: Getty Images

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