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Nova Scotia biopharma company stock jumps after COVID-19 human vaccine trials announcement

Dartmouth-based biopharmaceutical company IMV Inc. has received approval from Health Canada to test a COVID-19 vaccine on humans. - Reuters

The vaccine would become one of several COVID-19 drugs and vaccines approved for a clinical trial by Health Canada

DARTMOUTH, N.S. —

Shares in IMV Inc., a Dartmouth-based biopharmaceutical company, moved sharply higher Tuesday upon news that it has received approval from Health Canada on its design for a COVID-19 vaccine trial on humans.

IMV is now working with regulatory agencies towards starting the phase 1 clinical trial which may be carried out in Halifax or Quebec, according to the company’s website. 

The company's shares climbed to $6.35 CAD at the end of trading Tuesday, with more than five million shares changing hands.

On Tuesday morning, the company’s stock hit a high of $9.25 CAD after IMV made the announcement through a press release. It was up about 130 per cent compared to its closing value Monday.

IMV had been working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine since February 2020.

The vaccine, called DPX-COVID-19, was selected among other vaccine candidates in late May. Since then, it has undergone pre-clinical studies in animals. IMV has also produced multiple batches of the vaccine.

The vaccine is based on a patented formulation that provides controlled and prolonged exposure of the immune system to synthetic molecules. Those molecules, called antigens, are specific to Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. If the vaccine is successful in stimulating the immune system, it would enable immune cells to fight future COVID-19 infections.

So if Sars-CoV-2 enters the body of a person who received the vaccine, their immune cells would recognize and bind to part of the virus's S-spike protein. This results in eliminating the virus and preventing infection. The protein, which is present on the surface of the virus, is responsible for the attachment and entry of the virus into human cells.

Before COVID-19, the company had been in the process of developing immunotherapies against cancer and rhinovirus (RSV) using the DPX technology.

“Clinical results have shown our DPX-based vaccine against RSV demonstrated a unique ability to generate safe and long-lasting immune response in older adults,” said Frederic Ors, chief executive officer at IMV in a press release.

The company expects to replicate those results with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The DPX-COVID-19 clinical trial will enroll 84 healthy participants in two age groups: people between 18 and 55 years old and those 56 years old and above. The trial would become one of several authorized clinical trials in Canada for drugs and vaccines related to COVID-19.

Once results of phase 1 are published, the company said they plan to start phase 2 in the second half of the year.

Nebal Snan is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.

 

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