Positive pre-clinical data for CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from German biotechnology company CureVac is ready to use at the start of a clinical test series in the tropical institute of the university clinic in Tuebingen, Germany, June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

BERLIN (Reuters) - German biotech company CureVac said on Friday its potential vaccine against the coronavirus triggered an immune response in pre-clinical animal studies.

The Tuebingen-based company, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the potential vaccine, known as CVnCoV, produced neutralising antibodies and activated T-cells in hamsters and mice.

CureVac is using the so-called messenger RNA approach, the same as rivals BioNTech and its partner Pfizer as well as Moderna, which have started testing on humans.

CureVac said the vaccine also reduced the levels of replicating virus in the upper respiratory tract and protected the lungs of hamsters when they were exposed to a live virus.

“The pre-clinical data published today show that our COVID-19 vaccine candidate has the potential to induce an efficacious and balanced immune response, mimicking the natural immune defence and providing lung protection in a relevant challenge model,” said CureVac Chief Technology Officer Mariola Fotin-Mleczek.

Shares in CureVac were up 7.8% at 1148 GMT.

The potential vaccine is currently being tested in humans in early and mid-stage trials, and CureVac said it expected to publish interim Phase I data shortly.

Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter