OKC researchers in forefront of vaccine search

Published: Monday, July 13, 2020 By: Janice Francis-Smith Source: The Journal Record

A local research firm is putting Oklahoma City at the forefront of the historic effort to create a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time.

The Lynn Health Science Institute, located at 3555 NW 58th St. in Oklahoma City, has contracted with biotech company Moderna to conduct Phase III clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Lynn Institute has been here for 27 years and during that time we’ve done over 1,000 clinical studies,” said Carl P. Griffin, M.D., principal investigator for the study. Moderna has chosen the Lynn Institute for several studies in the past, “just because our level of experience and consistency with how we work,” said Griffin, who has been with the firm for the last 22 years.

Massachusetts-based Moderna won the nationwide race to become the first company to bring a COVID-19 vaccine into human trials and is just one of four U.S. companies that have reached the testing stage for a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 16 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in trials worldwide.

Moderna is well-positioned to have the first COVID-19 vaccine on the market, securing a number of manufacturing deals concurrent with development of the vaccine so manufacture can begin immediately once the vaccine is proven safe and effective. With each announcement of another manufacturing deal, the company’s stock price has increased; Moderna shares have climbed by more than 214% since the beginning of the year, giving the company a market capitalization of about $23 billion.

The Lynn Institute typically conducts about 100 clinical trials a year, and is the largest nonacademic clinic trial site in Oklahoma, Executive Vice President Carlos Blanco said. The Lynn Institute has conducted trials for “just about any drug that needs FDA approval to go on to market” with the exception of cancer treatments, Blanco said. The firm has conducted trials for vaccines to treat influenza, smallpox, meningitis, anthrax, HPV and other diseases.

Moderna’s clinical trials will involve roughly 30,000 participants from more than 100 cities nationwide. In Oklahoma City, the Lynn Institute is looking for up to 320 individuals to participate in a trial that will last 24 months. Participants are given a vaccine that does not infect them with the disease itself but uses messenger RNA to instruct the body to make the kind of proteins that can fight off COVID-19.

Participants are to be compensated about $2,000 for their time and travel, as they will be required to visit the clinic seven times over the next two years.

“We’ll be studying the long-term effects of the vaccine, how the body forms antibodies against the actual virus and how long that’s maintained,” said Griffin.

Read the story on JournalRecord.com.

Back to top