By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s unlisted CureVac said its experimental coronavirus vaccine was shown to trigger an immune response in animals when given a low dose and the biotech firm was looking at carrying out its first human trials in June.

It said on Thursday that the data supported its expectations that “the vaccine candidate has the potential to induce a strong immunologic response to neutralise SARS-CoV-2.”

The company, in which SAP co-founder Dietmar Hopp owns a stake of more than 80%, plans to initiate the first clinical trial in healthy volunteers in June, it said.

Media reports that the United States had tried to gain access to the vaccine had stirred a political backlash in Germany in March, with German government members voicing support for keeping CureVac German.

CureVac’s management has denied it had received U.S. offers.

The Tuebingen-based company, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, previously said it hoped to have a compound ready by June or July that it could propose to regulators for testing on humans.

CureVac is using the so-called messenger RNA approach, the same as rivals BioNTech and its partner Pfizer as well as Moderna , which have initiated testing on humans.

Translate Bio and partner Sanofi are also working on a messenger RNA vaccine.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Tom Sims and Jane Merriman)