- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2020

After going through more than two dozen prototypes, Army researchers have selected a coronavirus vaccine candidate — along with two backups — to advance to the next stage of research.

The candidate with the most promising antibody response during preclinical studies is called SpFN for Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle. It will first enter in human testing later this year, officials with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research said Friday.

Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, commander of the Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, said they are moving at “unprecedented speeds” in the effort to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“With the recent selection of this vaccine candidate, we believe we are one step closer to that goal,” Gen. Talley said.

Army scientists and researchers began developing a vaccine strategy when the virus sequence was published in January.



“We have leveraged the Institute’s expertise and infrastructure to be able to compress what would, under normal circumstances, be two years of discovery and design work into several months,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious disease branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Researchers hope the vaccine platform also could pave the way for a universal vaccine to protect against not only the novel coronavirus but other known and unknown coronaviruses that could arise in the future.

Army researchers continue to take part in Operation Warp Speed, an intergovernmental effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a range of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

“The vaccine that we have developed at [Walter Reed Army Institute of Research] is exciting but that is not the only way that the U.S. Army will contribute to COVID-19 vaccine development,” said Dr. Nelson Michael, the institute’s director of infectious-disease research.

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