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China’s Stemirna halts mRNA cancer vaccine trial, researchers say

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By Andrew Silver

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Stemirna Therapeutics has halted an early stage trial for a new cancer vaccine, two of its trial researchers said, in a fresh setback to company, which has been grappling with tight funding.

Vinod Ganju, an oncologist at Paso Medical in Australia and one of principal trial investigators of Stemirna’s personalised cancer vaccine SW1115C3 for patients with malignant solid tumours, said the study had been “on hold for several months”.

He said the hospital has had no communication with Stemirna about the trial “for some time”.

Mihitha Ariyapperuma, an oncologist at One Clinical Research and another principal investigator, said the trial “never took off” in the country, adding that the time it took for Stemirna to develop the vaccine the trial “impractical”.

Stemirna and its chief executive, Li Hangwen, did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters reported in December that the company has fallen behind on regular wage payments as it struggles to raise fresh financing. Its separately developed COVID vaccine has yet to receive marketing approval from Chinese regulators.

The charity Cancer Council South Australia, which provides information on clinical cancer trials, said on its website that Stermirna’s study was still recruiting participants. The council told Reuters in a statement that it did not fund any trials it listed on its website and referred questions to trial investigators.

Stemirna is one of several Chinese developers of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines who are testing the technology for use against other diseases such as cancer.

(Reporting by Andrew Silver; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Gerry Doyle)

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