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OurCrowd heads $12m investment round for startup researching coronavirus vaccine

Jerusalem-based crowdfunding VC firm backs newly formed MigVax Corp., which aims to adapt a coronavirus inoculation for poultry for use in humans

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

A Magen David Adom ambulance service medic handling coronavirus tests in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A Magen David Adom ambulance service medic handling coronavirus tests in Jerusalem on April 19, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based crowdfunding venture capital firm, said on Wednesday it was heading a $12 million investment round for an Israeli startup that aims to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

The newly formed medical firm, MigVax Corp., is based in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona and is an affiliate of the Migal Galilee Research Institute.

The institute spent four years developing a vaccine for infectious bronchitis virus, a strain of coronavirus that afflicts poultry. The company hopes to adapt the poultry vaccine for use in humans.

The novel coronavirus currently infecting humans worldwide, dubbed SARS-CoV-2, causes the COVID-19 disease and is one of many strains of coronaviruses.

Infectious bronchitis virus is similar to the novel coronavirus and employs the same infection mechanism.

Tests at Israel’s Veterinary Institute found Migal’s poultry vaccine to be effective and safe, the research institute said.

MigVax said it hopes to have samples ready for clinical trials within a few months. The planned vaccine would be orally administered and would not include the actual virus, making it safe for immune-suppressed patients.

The state-funded Migal was established in northern Israel in 1979 and does research in biotechnology, computer sciences, plant science and other areas.

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