Arcturus Therapeutics Based In San Diego Has Been Granted $10 Million From Singapore To Make COVID-19 Vaccine


Arcturus Therapeutics, a San Diego biotech company received a $10 million grant from a government agency in Singapore to co-develop a COVID-19 virus vaccine.

The development of the vaccine will be done in partnership with the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School. Researchers may use of Arcturus’ self-replicating RNA platform, otherwise known as STARR to develop their vaccine.

Chief executive John Payne said that Arcturus technologies allow vaccines to have an immune response at low doses. So, if the researchers are successful at developing this, Payne states that a small amount would be enough to vaccinate millions of people at a fraction of the cost.

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“What we bring to the equation here is a single-shot solution and a 30-fold improvement in dosing. That is why Singapore selected us,” said Payne.

Arcturus is just one of the many companies working to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, which has already infected more than 100,000 people and killed more than 4,000 all over the world. 38 people have already died in the U.S. alone, with the first fatality occurring in California.

Other companies working on creating a vaccine include Inovio, a San Diego based company that is developing a DNA-based treatment. They are expected to start human trials in as early as April.

Another Massachusetts messenger RNA therapeutics firm, Modeena has also began its shipment of their vaccine’s first batch to the National Institutes of Health last month to start the Phase 1 study in the U.S.

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RNA means ribonucleic acid, which is a key element in metabolic processes for protein synthesis of cells. RNA medicines are created to order cells to prevent or fight off the disease that is attacking them.

The Singapore Economic Development Board gave Arcturus a portion of the grant in advance, with the remainder to be released when milestones are achieved.

Medical school researchers, along with Arcturus will be conducting pre-clinical testing followed by human trials, said Payne.


Because of the grant provided, the government of Singapore will own the rights to the vaccine, yet Arcturus has the freedom to market the vaccine at a global scale, if proven to be successful.

Payne also mentioned that the Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School has had very good success of working on infectious diseases. It was among the first groups to isolate and culture the virus, as well as develop the first serological test.

“There is tremendous urgency to develop an effective prevention for the current coronavirus crisis,” deputy director of the medical school’s Emerging Infectious Disease program, Professor Ooi Eng Eong said in a statement.



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