A local medical research company now finds itself at the forefront of the global search for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Clinical Research Professionals (CRP), located in the Chesterfield Valley, will soon begin recruiting volunteers for a Phase1/Phase II study of vaccine candidates being developed through a partnership between Pfizer, Inc., and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech.
“It’s pretty neat – we’re a little clinic here in Chesterfield and we’re getting an opportunity to do a trial with Pfizer,” said Malana Kanallakan, CRP’s recruitment marketing manager.
Kanallakan explained that enrollment for the study is expected to begin by the end of July. About 500 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 85 will be included.
Once accepted into the study, some of those volunteers will receive two doses of a vaccine candidate, while others will receive a placebo. Participants will be asked to visit the clinic, located at 17998 Chesterfield Airport Road, a total of six times over a follow-up period of two years.
The Pfizer-BioNTech partnership is focused on four candidates of a novel type of vaccine called messenger-Ribonucleic acid (mRNA). One main advantage of an mRNA vaccine is its faster development timeline. According to previously published reports, the vaccine can be delivered with lower dosing requirements and be produced rapidly in larger quantities.
Pfizer has also committed to rapid production of a safe and effective vaccine to make it widely available as quickly as possible. As such, it will be scaling up its manufacturing capacity and distribution infrastructure at its facility in Chesterfield, even as the study is being conducted.
Researchers are hoping to make the vaccine available, at least to individuals at highest risk from COVID-19, sooner than the expected 12- to 18-month development time frame.
CRP is ready to do its part to meet that goal.
“We’ve been around for six years, and we’re very well-rounded with our trials,” said Marianne Tow, the clinic’s director. “We do all types of studies, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s, GI-related trials, traumatic brain injury studies and others. We like to take a personal touch with our patients, and we also take a lot of pride in selecting doctors who are a really good fit and get into (research) for the right reasons.
“Many doctors we’ve worked with, along with law enforcement officers, first responders and other health professionals, have expressed interest in being part of this exciting trial,” she added. “This study isn’t going to be for everybody, but there’s so much going on with COVID and the crisis surrounding it, that many people may want to be a part of it.”
For West County, St. Charles County and other St. Louis area residents interested in participating in the vaccine trial, CRP has set up a dedicated website, crpvaccine.com. The site provides a list of screening questions to help determine if individuals are eligible to enroll, along with a link to more detailed information about the vaccine study available on the U.S. National Institutes of Health research management website, clinicaltrials.gov.