Osaka venture halts developing COVID vaccine after clinical trials fail to show effects

This photo shows a sample of containers for coronavirus vaccines. The contents of the ones in this photo are water. (Mainichi/Naotsune Umemura)

OSAKA — Pharmaceutical venture AnGes Inc. announced on Sept. 7 that it has suspended the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

The company, originating from Osaka University and based in the Osaka Prefecture city of Ibaraki, had been developing the vaccine since March 2020, but clinical trials reportedly failed to confirm its effectiveness. President Ei Yamada commented, the vaccine “did not have any safety issues, but it did not reach our expected level.”

Aiming to develop a “DNA vaccine” that delivers the genetic information of a virus into the body via DNA, the company became the first Japanese manufacturer to conduct clinical trials. The firm has received about 7.5 billion yen (about $52 million) in subsidies so far from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and others, and attracted attention when Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said in April 2020 that he hoped to put the AnGes vaccine to practical use as early as September 2020.

With the discontinuation of development, the company will also end its joint research with Osaka University, Takara Bio Inc., and others. It will now begin development of an improved DNA vaccine that is effective against mutant strains such as omicron’s BA.5 subvariant.

(Japanese original by Hirokage Tabata, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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