GSK, Sanofi in Covid-19 vaccine plan

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GSK, Sanofi will use innovative technology.

Friday May 29 2020

Pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GlaxoSmithkline (GSK) are in plans to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

According to a press release, the companies said they would use innovative technology to help address the ongoing pandemic. Sanofi will contribute its S-protein Covid-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant DNA technology is used to combine a copy of the proteins found on the surface of the virus with the antigen.

“This technology has produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, and the DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, the basis of Sanofi’s licensed recombinant influenza product in the US,” said the press release.

GSK will contribute its pandemic adjuvant technology towards the development of the vaccine. According the statement, the use of an adjuvant is particularly important in a pandemic situation since it could reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced. Sanofi chief executive officer Paul Hudson said the decision to work together with a business rival came from the realisation that no organisation could singlehandedly achieve the production of an eective vaccine in the shortest possible time. “As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone,” said Hudson.

“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 su cient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus,” he added. His counterpart at GSK, Emma Walmsley, echoed the view, adding that the collaboration could speed up the world’s eorts to get an eective vaccine.

“This collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies. By combining our scientific expertise, technologies and capabilities, we believe that we can help accelerate the global eort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19,” Walmsley said. In vaccine manufacture, the method of combining a protein-based antigen with an adjuvant has been used in a number of existing vaccines.

An adjuvant is added to the vaccine to enhance the immune response and has been shown to create a stronger and longer- lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. It can also improve the possibility of delivering an eective vaccine that can be manufactured at scale. The companies plan to initiate the first phase of clinical trials in the second half of 2020. Should the project comply with all regulatory requirements, the firms aim to make the vaccine available for use by 2021.