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San Diego biotech company developing coronavirus, COVID-19 vaccine

Arcturus Therapeutics says it's identified a vaccine, it's now working on manufacturing it.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As the race to develop a vaccine for coronavirus / COVID-19 continues globally, the San Diego based biotech company, Arcturus Therapeutics, is working on creating one at its Torrey Pines lab. 

"The major challenge with vaccines is the size of the dose and the feasibility of manufacturing," said President and CEO, Joseph Payne.

The biotech company is working with Duke NUS- Medical School, a partnership between Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

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"They have significant experience with epidemic and pandemic viral outbreaks, [including] SARS, MERS and now coronavirus," said Payne.

Though there are several companies working to develop a vaccine, he says the technology they use is different.

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"Our approach is self-replicating RNA, which means we inject a very tiny amount into your arm and it creates the antigen for a few weeks and continues to do," he said. 

"The hope its a single injection and doesn't require a booster."

The amount of vaccine they're aiming to use is a dose in micrograms. Payne said its something that sets them apart from their competition.

"That's important so that when we do a manufacturing run, that we can make the batch available to the largest population," he said.

Regarding a timeline as to when clinical trials could start on humans, Payne said, "What we've messaged is as soon as possible of course. We're aiming for this year but that is an ambitious challenge."

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