by Dina Kupfer

DAVIS (CBS13) — Researchers at UC Davis will begin testing a coronavirus vaccine on mice this week.

Verndari, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Napa, will begin preclinical testing of a possible coronavirus vaccine on mice this week in partnership with UC Davis’ mouse biology program.

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“We want a vaccine so we can go back to the life that we knew before,” Verndari, Inc. CEO Dan Henderson said.

Alison Brashear is the Dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.

“The mouse biology program will be a pivotal partner to determine not only the vaccine development but also the device and the delivery mechanism that is unique here,” Brashear said.

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The first-of-its-kind “vaxipatch” is a dermal patch that could be self-administered. The COVID-19 vaccine would be delivered through a metal microneedle array into a patient’s arm. It would not require refrigeration, so it could be shipped in the mail, making it more accessible.

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“We are transferring the technology we developed for flu to a COVID-19 vaccine,” Henderson said.

Henderson says the company pivoted quickly when the pandemic began. The plan is to first test the patch on mice, then move to monkeys.

He hopes to begin human testing by late June.

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“We’re not going to be able to have football stadiums with 40-100,000 people until we have a vaccine. We’d all like to get the party going again,” Henderson said.

UC Davis is ideally positioned to do this type of work because they already had the infrastructure in place. But Brashear stopped short of saying when we could see a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA.

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“I have every confidence that we will move as quickly as we can, but we also want to do it right, and we want to make sure that any vaccine that would come out is safe,” Brashear said.