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Sanofi and GSK set aside rivalry with "unprecedented" COVID-19 vaccine partnership

Published on 15/04/20 at 11:09am

Usual rivals Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have said they are to put aside competition with the forging of a new “unprecedented collaboration” in the pursuit of an adjuvanted vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership will leverage Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which utilises recombinant DNA technology to genetically duplicate the proteins found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This DNA sequence encoding has been combined with the same baculovirus expression platform the company uses in its approved recombinant influenza products.

This will be married with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology which can boost immune reaction and reduce the necessary quantity of vaccine protein per dose, potentially stretching resources and allowing more doses to be manufactured in a situation where time is of the essence. The addition of an adjuvant can also lead to longer-lasting immunity and improve the chances of successful for a vaccine that can be produced on a large scale.

Both companies have their eyes on the second half of this year for the launch of Phase 1 clinical trials for the candidate, with the goal of making “hundreds of millions” of doses of the vaccine available in the latter half of next year, should it prove successful.

“As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone,” remarked Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson on the partnership. “That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.”

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley added: “This collaboration brings two of the world’s largest vaccines companies together. By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19.”

The effort is just the latest from both companies against COVID-19; Sanofi previously announced in February that it had partnered with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an office of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to advance a vaccine candidate for the virus.

Matt Fellows

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