GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and infectious disease specialists Vir Biotechnology have signed an agreement to collaborate on researching and developing drugs and vaccines against coronaviruses, including Covid-19.

Initially, due to urgency in resolving the Covid-19 pandemic, GSK and Vir will focus on accelerating VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, two antibody candidates already identified using Vir’s proprietary monoclonal antibody platform. These two candidates have demonstrated high affinity to Covid-19’s spike protein and are highly potent at neutralising the virus in live virus cellular assays.

However, GSK and Vir also plan to leverage the latter’s antbody technology and CRISPR screening approaches to also identify new anti-viral antibodies and cellular targets.

Further to this, the two companies will combine their vaccine expertise to develop preventative solutions to the ongoing pandemic.

As per the terms of the agreement, GSK has made a $250m equity agreement in return for use of Vir’s antibody technology platform.

GSK president of R&D and chief scientific officer Dr. Hal Barron said: “Vir’s unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens, and it is highly complementary with our R&D approach to focus on the science of immunology.

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Vir Biotechnology CEO George Scangos added: “It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop this coronavirus pandemic.”