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AURORA, Colo (KDVR) — Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and UCHealth on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus will recruit qualified patients throughout Colorado for a study testing a promising COVID-19 vaccine, according to a release from the hospital on Thursday morning.

UCHealth says the recruitment period will run about two months at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, and is the only hospital in Colorado for this study.

“Our site here at University of Colorado Hospital is part of a nationwide network called the COVID Prevention Network, which is set up so that it has a cohort of sites that are available to sequentially enroll into multiple vaccine studies,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, an infectious disease physician at the CU School of Medicine and University of Colorado Hospital. “If it works, the Moderna vaccine could be a real game-changer for the pandemic.”

UCHealth and the CU School of Medicine will recruit 1,000 patients for the trial. Participants will be monitored for at least a year to determine the vaccine’s safety and whether they contract COVID-19.

The hospital says patients from throughout Colorado will be invited to participate. Participants will have to travel to University of Colorado Hospital for their appointments.

“UCHealth is dedicated to groundbreaking research to discover treatments and vaccines to fight diseases like COVID-19. This is one of more than 15 COVID-19 clinical trials in which UCHealth locations are participating, and additional research studies are planned with our CU partners to continue protecting patients and improving outcomes,” said Dr. Margaret E. Reidy, UCHealth chief medical officer.

Unlike traditional vaccines which expose someone to a small amount of virus, the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine focuses on the genetic code of the coronavirus and its spike protein, Campbell said. The coronavirus gets its name from the crown of spikes seen through an electron microscope. The spike proteins are crucial for replication of the virus, as they attach to cells in the human body and cause infection. The vaccine’s purpose would be to induce an antibody response against the protein that would prevent the virus from infecting cells, Campbell said. This method may stimulate the body’s immune system without exposing someone to the actual virus.

Potential participants will be contacted through UCHealth’s My Health Connection patient portal and invited to participate if they meet the criteria for the trial.