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April 17, 2020

Company news – BARDA supports Moderna’s vaccine – promise of Gilead’s remdesivir made clear – nasal spray vaccine on the horizon

By Allie Nawrat

17 April 2020 

The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has committed up to $483m to support the development of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, against Covid-19. As per the terms of the agreement, BARDA will fund the advancement of mRNA-1273 to FDA licensure; the vaccine candidate is currently in Phase I clinical trial.

Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir has led to quick recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 patients in a clinical trial, according to a report by STAT news agency, which obtained a copy of a video discussion by a University of Chicago faculty member overseeing the study. Commenting on the report, Gilead said that the clinical data has to be analysed before any conclusions can be drawn. 

US-based Dynavax Technologies has partnered with China-based Sinovac Biotech to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. The alliance will combine Sinovac’s chemically inactivated coronavirus vaccine candidate with Dynavax’s CpG 1018 adjuvant, which is produced using an automated, scalable process.

Biogen has launched a consortium to build and share a Covid-19 biobank, which will include biological and medical data to help in the search for potential vaccines and treatments. Other founding members of the consortium include the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, as well as Partners HealthCare.

The Centre for Inflammation Research at University of Edinburgh in the UK is redeploying up to 150 researchers to work on its new STOPCOVID project focused on testing existing and investigational drugs as potential Covid-19 treatments. STOPCOVID will target the inflammatory pathways that are directly associated with lung injury.

University of Waterloo researchers in Canada are developing a DNA-based vaccine candidate against Covid-19 that is delivered by a nasal spray. The vaccine relies on a bacteriophage-based approach, which allows it to replicate within bacteria already present in the body.

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