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COVID Vaccine Made With Plants? It's The Subject Of Clinical Trial In Wilmington

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 12, 2021
Trial Management Associates, a Wilmington clinical research firm, and Bart Williams and Will Jones of Wrightsville Family Practice are conducting a trial of a new COVID-19 vaccine using plant-based technology and plant cells, according to an announcement Monday.

Williams, the physician overseeing the trial, said in the news release, “The health and safety of our community continues to be the basis for our research. Finding safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and having a community comfort level to actually receive the vaccine will be the main way we navigate out of this global pandemic.

"Some patients in our community are hesitant to receive the current COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA. We worked hard to secure this trial because the plant-based technology offers an alternative, and everyone who participates in the trial will ultimately receive the vaccine.”

Phil Dattilo, president of TMA, said his firm's mission is to bring as many therapies to the Wilmington community as possible. He could not say which company his firm is working with on the trial.

Dattilo said creating vaccines using plants isn't new.

"Plant-based vaccines have been around for quite some time for various uses, such as influenza A and influenza B vaccines," he said.

Explaining how the vaccine works, TMA’s pharmacist Evan Lucas said in the release, “The vaccine for this study is plant-based, meaning that it is produced inside of plants and plant cells instead of animal or human cells as many vaccines are.

"The plants produce virus-like particles, which look very similar to coronavirus but do not make you sick. These particles trigger the immune system to respond and produce antibodies, helping patients develop immunity against COVID-19.”

TMA is seeking up to 330 volunteers ages 18 and older, who have not already received a COVID vaccination, to participate in the study. Potential patients may have received other types of vaccines if they have done so 14 days prior to starting the study and may receive other vaccines 28 days after receiving the study vaccine.

The trial requires five in-office visits, and all patients will be compensated for their time and travel. Those who want to participate in Wilmington or the surrounding communities can contact TMA at [email protected] or call 247-4580.
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