AnGes has risen on development of DNA vaccine for coronavirus
It’s now the top-weighted stock on Tokyo’s Mothers Index
A Japanese biopharma venture has surged almost 400% in just over two months on hopes that its vaccine candidate for the coronavirus will be successful.
AnGes Inc., a spin-off from Osaka University, announced March 5 that it was developing a DNA vaccine for coronavirus. Thanks to a steady stream of subsequent announcements and tie-up partners and a 25% gain on Thursday, the stock now commands the highest weighting of almost 10% on the 5.88 trillion yen ($55 billion) Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers startup board.
The pace of the vaccine’s development has attracted significant attention in Japan, with the initial announcement followed in just weeks by the start of pre-clinical trials on animals. Human trials are set to to begin as early as July, with a larger trial of 1,000 people eyed for September, according to reports.
“It’s hard to say anything before the trials begin, but the start line has moved a lot closer,” said ACE Research Institute analyst Tomohiko Ikeno. He noted the speed at which development of the vaccine was progressing, and said tie-ups with other firms and AnGes’ solid balance sheet should allow it to pursue the development.
“The company is working in a field it’s familiar with. It’s not as if they’re in unknown territory.”
DNA vaccines are a novel type of vaccine using genetic material from viruses or bacteria to induce an immune system response. The World Health Organization notes that DNA vaccines have a number of potential advantages over traditional vaccines, including “improved vaccine stability, the absence of any infectious agent and the relative ease of large-scale manufacture.”
But such vaccines have yet to be used in humans — and AnGes’ is just one of 100 potential candidates in pre-clinical trials.
“The problem with vaccines is that you’re putting it into healthy people, and possibly causing more harm than good,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Caroline Stewart.
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In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.