Plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial process underway in Wilmington

Andrew Lemon, Assistant News Editor

A Wilmington-based clinical research management company has developed and is in the trial stages of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Trial Management Associates (TMA) is currently seeking participants for a COVID-19 “plant-based” virus vaccine.

Plant-based technology has previously been used for viral vaccines such as the parvovirus found in dogs and rotavirus in humans, as well as vaccinations against bacterial infections such as cholera, tetanus and anthrax.

The vaccine is set to undergo trials from TMA and in conjunction with Drs. Bart Williams and Will Jones of Wrightsville Family Practice, utilizing particles from plants that have a similar structure to that of the coronavirus. Immune system exposure to these particles creates a response that the body will then remember. 

The hopes behind this vaccine are that if the immune system remembers how to fight these plant particles, the body would have an easier time fending off the similarly structured coronavirus particles.

This is a biological process that is similar to existing mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna, which use what is essentially a decoy made to look like the coronavirus spike protein, which the body remembers in the event there is contact with the actual coronavirus.

This will be the second coronavirus-related trial that TMA will oversee, having also played a role in the trial phase of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, which proved to be 95% effective.

Those seeking to participate in the TMA trials must be 18 years of age or older. Participants will be compensated for expenses related to the trial, including their time and transportation for the five required office visits. TMA is currently offering registration via their website, and can be reached for questions at covidvaccine@trialmgt.com or by phone at (910) 247-4580.