ImmunityBio, an El Segundo-based biotech firm headed by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, said Thursday it had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin preliminary testing of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Hoag Hospital Irvine will start recruiting 35 adult volunteers this month for the Phase 1 trial, which is designed to monitor the safety and possible side effects of the vaccine. Dosages will vary per candidate and be administered in two shots three weeks apart, the company said in a news release.
An estimated 213 laboratories around the world are trying to develop a vaccine, and three dozen have advanced to human trials, according to tracking by the Milken Institute. ImmunityBio is the first company headquartered in the Los Angeles area to reach this milestone. Soon-Shiong, the company’s chairman and chief executive, also owns the Los Angeles Times.
In an interview, Soon-Shiong called the FDA’s approval “extraordinary” and credited the role genetic sequencing has played in advancing vaccine research during the pandemic.
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