Last chance for Quebec’s oral vaccine against COVID-19

The Biotechnologie Ulysse laboratory in Trois-Rivières will test in the coming weeks, for the third and last time, its oral vaccine funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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After two years of pandemic and the different variants, the Biotechnologie Ulysse laboratory in Trois-Rivières is staying the course. It continues the development of its oral vaccine against COVID-19.
The challenge: to develop without the speed and means of the pharmaceutical giants.

The young shoot specializing in the cultivation of probiotics for plant growth has been working for a year and a half on an oral solution against COVID-19. The laboratory will enter a critical phase within four to six weeks.

“We are going to test the vaccine on mice for a third time. If the first attempt had not been successful, the second time was promising,” reported the president of Ulysse Yves Hurtubise who hopes that this third time will be the right one.

This is the last round of testing supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. “In terms of technology, things are progressing very well. This is the last trial we will do with NSERC funding and if it works well it should lead to official trials with Health Canada.

The main challenge is funding. Each round of testing is very expensive, which limits development capacity.

The president of Ulysse turns to external partners and the government to hope to move forward. “We have very interested partners, he explained, but it would be nice to have help from the government. I’m getting to a stage where I can’t open the company’s wallet indefinitely without putting it at risk.”

The biotechnology doctoral student adds that 70% of the company’s research and development budget is dedicated to the vaccine.

Remember that Ulysse specializes in biotechnology, particularly with the development of probiotics to stimulate plant growth.

M Hurtubise is confident for the future. This type of technology adapts more easily to new variants. The sinews of war for the next few years.

“The vaccine is like a 99-piece puzzle and it’s almost finished,” he said. The 100th piece is a variant that can be added. We ran simulations and within two and a half weeks, we went from the conceptual stage to testing for mice. It’s still quite complicated because we work with natural bacteria and it comes with its share of surprises. We are able to move very quickly. Which is less the case with RNA technology.”

Business is going very well for the young SME from Trois-Rivières. It has just moved to premises five times larger in the city’s industrial park. Ulysse has entered the American market and has just won a contract with the Togolese government in Africa to improve greenhouse cultivation.

Not to mention the sights for Europe by the end of 2022. “It’s a great pride to see a company from Trois-Rivières win the contract.” The growth can be seen in the number of employees, which rose from four to ten in one year, including six researchers.

Business opportunities are growing to such an extent that an expansion project is already in the plans for next fall.


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