GreenLight Biosciences to Test COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine in Rwanda


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Greenlight Biosciences Inc., a biotechnology company developing RNA-based solutions for agriculture and pharmaceutical applications, has received regulatory approval to begin the first phase 1/2 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Rwanda.

"This clinical trial marks the necessary first step toward developing an integrated, universal strategy against COVID-19,” said Andrey Zarur, GreenLight’s CEO. “Our previously announced collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop a universal COVID-19 vaccine, and our previously reported scalable mRNA manufacturing process, will enable us to address this disease in a more effective manner.” 

This mRNA vaccine candidate is part of GreenLight’s wider COVID-19 strategy, which is focused on developing a universal COVID-19 vaccine with broader and more durable protection. The clinical trial in Rwanda will test the mRNA vaccine candidate as a booster for previously vaccinated individuals.

“COVID-19 continues to be a significant global health issue,” said Mark Dybul, chair of GreenLight’s Human Health Scientific Advisory Board, and former executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “It is especially important to develop vaccines that are globally affordable and scalable. GreenLight’s efforts to initiate this clinical study in Rwanda show the company’s commitment to support Africa’s goal of affordable vaccine self-sufficiency.”

Greenlight has a plant sciences research and development facility in the Research Triangle Park with about 60 employees. The RTP facility, which is focused on screening new molecules for crop protection products, includes a greenhouse, laboratory, offices and more than 60,000 square feet of space.

GreenLight’s agricultural solutions rely on the company’s proprietary cell-free RNA platform for plant health applications. The technology enables production of double-stranded RNA at a production cost of less than $1/gram when fully scaled. This high-quality RNA can be transformed for use in a wide variety of plant health applications. From a pipeline of nine active programs, the agricultural solutions nearest to commercialization include one that protects potatoes from the Colorado potato beetle and another that protects bees from Varroa mites.

Nancy Lamontagne, NCBiotech Writer
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