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March 30, 2020updated 09 Aug 2020 2:15pm

COVID-19: Pharmaceutical companies and agencies that partnered for coronavirus vaccine development

Pharmaceutical companies from across the world along with government agencies have partnered to develop a cure for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) that emerged from Wuhan, China.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Vaccines/drugs in the pipeline for Covid-19

The COVID-19 outbreak emerging in Wuhan, China has claimed the lives of more than 3,300 people across the world and is fast emerging as a global epidemic. An effective cure in the form of a vaccine or drug is the need of the hour to stop the coronavirus from infecting more number of people.

Pharmaceutical Technology lists the companies and government agencies that have partnered to develop coronavirus treatments.

Twist Bioscience Corporation and Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Twist Bioscience Corporation and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have formed a collaboration to develop therapies for COVID-19. Twist Biopharma, a unit of Twist Bioscience, will supply antibody drug discovery libraries to identify potential antibody therapeutics.

VUMC has provided Twist Biopharma with antibody sequences collected a patient who recovered from COVID-19. Twist Biopharma is developing an antibody discovery library based on the antibody sequences to isolate specific antibodies that may be effective against SARS-CoV-2.

AbCellera and Lilly

AbCellera and Lilly have announced a collaboration to develop antibody therapies as a treatment for COVID-19. The two companies will utilise AbCellera’s rapid pandemic response platform for the development and manufacturing of therapeutic antibodies.

AbCellera has already screened more than five million immune cells from blood samples received from one of the first cured patients in the US. The company will focus on identifying the antibodies that are most effective in neutralising the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Pluristem and Charité University of Medicine

Pluristem has collaborated with Charite’ University of Medicine Berlin’s BIH Center for Regenerative Therapy (BCRT) and the Berlin Center for Advanced Therapies (BeCAT) to explore its PLX cell product candidates as potential treatments for respiratory and inflammatory complications related to COVID-19.

PLX cells are similar to mesenchymal cells and have immunomodulatory properties that can prevent the overactivation of the immune system. In preclinical trials, the cells have demonstrated efficacy in reducing pulmonary hypertension and lung fibrosis.

The collaboration will enable Pluristem to expedite the development of the PLX drug candidates.

Brii Biosciences and Columbia University

Brii Biosciences and Columbia University have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to fund research activities towards the prevention and cure of coronaviruses including COVID-19.

The two entities will use their research and expertise to identify and develop antiviral drugs and antibodies against COVID-19. Brii will provide funding to the university in the form of an unrestricted grant to carry out the research.

Vir Biotechnology and National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center

Vir Biotechnology has formed a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center for the development of human monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19. The two entities will work to identify combinations of antibodies against various coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2.

They will also exchange antibodies and other materials to carry out in vivo animal studies and analyse immune responses.

Spherix Incorporated and University of Maryland

Spherix Incorporated has licensed a patented treatment from University of Maryland, which was developed through a grant provided by the National Institutes of Health. Spherix will conduct due diligence and sign a licensing agreement for the commercial development of the treatment.

Mount Sinai Health System and Harbour BioMed

Mount Sinai Health System and Harbour BioMed have signed a multi-year collaboration to develop antibodies for the treatment of various diseases. The partners will also utilise the H2L2 Harbour Mice® platform to develop antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2.

Iktos and SRI International

Iktos has collaborated with SRI International to develop anti-viral therapies against COVID-19. The collaboration will make use of Iktos’ generative modeling technology with SRI’s SynFini™ automated synthetic chemistry system, to identify drug candidates for the treatment of multiple viruses including SARS-CoV-2.

Vir Biotechnology and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Vir Biotechnology and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals are one of the companies working on COVID 19 vaccine. They have expanded an existing collaboration to develop RNAi therapeutics against the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2.

Alnylam has already identified 350 siRNAs targeting both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 genomes, which will be evaluated in in vitro potency assays. Vir will further evaluate the most potent siRNA candidates among those identified in vitro and in vivo anti-viral activity and select a development candidate.

EpiVax and University of Georgia

EpiVax and University of Georgia have partnered to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. EpiVax has already identified key areas of the viral sequences that are key to developing the vaccines and excluded those that are less effective using proprietary in silico (computational) tools.

Arcturus Therapeutics and Duke-NUS Medical School

Arcturus Therapeutics has formed a partnership with Duke-NUS Medical School to develop a COVID-19 vaccine using its STARR technology™. The technology uses a self-replicating non-viral delivery system to produce proteins inside the body. It will help in producing a vaccine capable of generating a superior immune response at low doses compared to traditional mRNA vaccines.

Institute of Materia Medica and Cyclica

Institute of Materia Medica and Cyclica have partnered to perform drug re-purposing for Covid-19. Using Cyclica’s proprietary deep learning engine named MatchMaker, the partners will screen 6,700 FDA-approved drugs as well as drug candidates currently in phase one clinical trials. MatchMaker can screen these drugs and create a first-in-class library called PolypharmDB containing the drugs, which can be re-purposed.

The Institute of Materia Medica will assess the safety and efficacy of the drug candidates identified by the technology in in vitro and in vivo studies.

Dynavax and University of Queensland

Dynavax has announced a partnership with the University of Queensland to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 using its toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist adjuvant, CpG 1018. The partnership is part of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) initiative.

CpG 1018 is an adjuvant used in Dynavax’s FDA-approved hepatitis B vaccine, HEPLISAV-B®. The adjuvant has demonstrated an effective safety database, which can be used for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.

Harvard University and Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health

Harvard University and Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health have partnered to identify therapies for treating COVID-19. The two institutes will share $115m in funding from China Evergrande Group to carry out the research on the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines, and antiviral drugs.

Vir Biotechnology and WuXi Biologics

Vir Biotechnology and WuXi Biologics have formed a partnership to commercialise human monoclonal antibodies being developed by the former to treat coronavirus. Vir has identified several monoclonal antibodies that can bind to the virus and evaluating their efficacy against the virus.

WuXi Biologics will perform cell-line development, formulation and initial manufacturing of the antibodies for clinical trials, as part of the partnership. If approved, Wuxi will retain the rights to commercialise the therapies in China. Vir will have the rights to market the therapies in the rest of the world.

Beroni Group and Tianjin University

Beroni Group has formed a partnership with Tianjin University to develop treatments for coronavirus. Nanobody-based technology will be used by the partners to screen and identify potential drug compounds.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals and GSK

Clover Biopharmaceuticals has partnered with GSK to develop a protein-based vaccine candidate (COVID-19 S-Trimer) for coronavirus. GSK will provide Clover with access to its pandemic adjuvant system to develop the vaccine.

Clover will use its Timer-Tag© technology to identify antibodies against the antibodies. It has already developed a produced an S-Trimer subunit vaccine using the technology in mammalian cell-culture based expression system. The vaccine is expected to be available for pre-clinical trials in six to eight weeks.

Cocrystal Pharma and Kansas State University Research Foundation

Cocrystal Pharma has signed a license agreement with Kansas State University Research Foundation (KSURF) to develop proprietary antiviral compounds for COVID-19 treatment. The agreement provides Cocrystal with access to KSURF’s antiviral compounds, which will be evaluated through pre-clinical and clinical trials for efficacy against coronavirus.

Cocrystal will use its proprietary platform technology capable of generating a high-resolution 3-D structure that can be used to identify novel binding sites. The technology helps in targeting those enzymes that are responsible for viral replication.

Sanofi Pasteur and HHS

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has announced a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, a subsidiary of Sanofi, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Sanofi will use its egg-free, recombinant DNA platform to develop a recombinant vaccine candidate.

The DNA platform generates an exact genetic match of the proteins contained in the coronavirus. These proteins will be combined with DNA from a harmless virus to produce an antigen, which will be capable of generating an immune response against the virus.

GeoVax and BravoVax Covid-19 vaccine

GeoVax, a US-based pharmaceutical company, and BravoVax, a China-based pharmaceutical company, have announced plans to develop a coronavirus cure in the form of vaccine based on the former’s MVA-VLP vaccine platform.

BravoVax will be responsible for testing and manufacturing the vaccine as well as coordinating with the public health and regulatory authorities in China.

GeoVax’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara platform enables enhanced expression and stable transgenes during the manufacturing process. Combined with the immunogenicity of Virus Like Particles (VLPs), the technology enables the production of vaccines that provide full protection in a single dose.

Janssen Research & Development and HHS

Janssen Research & Development, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, announced a collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to developing a vaccine candidate for coronavirus. BARDA is part of the HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

Janssen will use using its AdVac® and PER.C6® technologies to develop the vaccine. The technology was previously used to develop an investigational Ebola vaccine.

Janssen is also collaborating with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to develop a preventive vaccine for COVID-19.

iBio and CC-Pharming

iBio and CC-Pharming have formed a partnership to develop a plant-derived coronavirus drug based on the former’s FastPharming System, which has been previously used for producing antibody candidates for Ebola and Dengue fever viruses.

FastPharming System was developed using funding from the US Department of Defense’s DARPA.

Takis and Evvivax partnership for coronavirus cure

Rome-based biotech companies, Takis and Evvivax, are two companies working on COVID vaccine using genetic vaccination technologies.

The technologies are capable of generating several antibodies to neutralise viruses and stronger immune response.

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and GSK

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and GSK announced a collaboration on the development of a new vaccine for COVID-19 treatment. GSK will use its pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform technology to develop the vaccine.

The technology enables the rapid development of a vaccine by adding an adjuvant to existing vaccines to boost the immune response. Use of adjuvants also reduces the amount of antigen required per dose while providing better immunity against infections.

CEPI and University of Queensland

CEPI has requested the University of Queensland to fast track the development of a vaccine using its rapid response technology called Molecular Clamp. The new technology provides stability to the viral protein responsible for generating immune defence. It can deliver a vaccine in less than six months and has shown promising results against influenza, Ebola, Nipah and MERS coronavirus.

A test dose of the vaccine is being produced by a Melbourne-based factory of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Animal testing to scheduled to commence shortly after production.

CEPI, Moderna and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Moderna is developing an mRNA vaccine as a treatment for 2019-nCoV, under a programme funded by CEPI. The Vaccine Research Center (VRC), a part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is collaborating with the development of the vaccine.

Moderna shipped the first vials of the vaccine to NIAID for phase one clinical trials in February. The NIAID will be responsible for carrying out IND-enabling studies as well as a phase one clinical study in the US in April.

CEPI and CureVac

CureVac has received an initial funding of $8.3m from CEPI to accelerate the development of a vaccine against nCoV-2019. The company will leverage its technology and mRNA platform to develop the new vaccine and begin testing within the next few months.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop new coronavirus drugs. The company will utilise its VelociSuite® technologies comprising of the VelocImmune® platform that uses a genetically-engineered mouse with a humanised immune system. The platform can be used to quickly identify, validate, and development antibody candidates.


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