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HBJ: Houston genetic engineering co. completes coronavirus vaccine, CEO says

The Houston-based company aims to give away its vaccine for free to certain nations impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

HOUSTON — The chief executive of a Houston-based genetic engineering firm said his company completed a vaccine targeting the current outbreak of the coronavirus that the World Health Organization calls COVID-19.

John Price, president and CEO of Houston-based Greffex Inc., told the Houston Business Journal that Greffex's scientists completed the coronavirus vaccine this week. The vaccine should now move to animal testing by the necessary government agencies — in the U.S., that's the Food and Drug Administration. Countries impacted by the outbreak, like China and Vietnam, have their own agencies with their own clinical testing regulations.

To ensure safety, Greffex did not use a living or killed virus for its vaccine, Price said. Greffex's treatments use adenovirus-based vector vaccines, which are used to target various kinds of infectious diseases and cancers, according to research published in the peer reviewed journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. In September 2019, Greffex received an $18.9 million contract from the National Institute of Health's National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop new treatments for infectious threats, according to a news release.

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Searching for a vaccine

All across the country, researchers are trying to develop a vaccine. At Novavax  in Maryland, 150 scientists have been preparing rows of machines to work at a frantic pace. Dr. Nita Patel, the lab's director of antibody discovery and vaccine development says they have a history of creating vaccines within three months.

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