GSK to collaborate with Chinese biotech on COVID-19 vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to collaborate with China’s Xiamen Innovex on a potential vaccine to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The companies are testing a recombinant protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate, known as COVID-19 XWG-03, which is being developed by Innovax with Xiamen University.

GSK will provide Innovax with the adjuvant need for a preclinical test of the vaccine which is based on a series of truncated S (spike) proteins from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19.

Like many of the other vaccines in development the vaccine uses a version of the spike proteins seen on the surface of the coronavirus to prime the body’s immune system.

GSK said that preclinical data from one of its collaborations has suggested that the adjuvant may have a benefit.

Adjuvants are important in vaccines as they boost the body’s reaction to the vaccine and reduce the amount of antigen needed to produce a therapeutic effect.

In the case of COVID-19, this would help the manufacturer of a successful vaccine keep pace with demand.

GSK expects data to be reported from the various collaborations over the next 3 months and these data will inform next steps for clinical development of the candidate vaccines.

CEO Emma Walmsley said the company is looking at further collaboration opportunities with companies and institutions.

It is also exploring options to share manufacturing capacity and provide large-scale manufacturing for any vaccine that makes it through the clinical development process.

At the beginning of February GlaxoSmithKline joined with the not-for-profit organisation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to supply adjuvants in the effort to find a vaccine against the coronavirus.

According to the latest information published by the World Health Organization, there are two vaccines in clinical trials against coronavirus.

These are an adenovirus vector-based vaccine being developed in China by CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, and Moderna’s mRNA vaccine that is being developed in partnership with the US-government backed NIAID.

There are 60 more vaccine candidates in preclinical testing, using a variety of different approaches including DNA, viral vectors, protein subunits, and live attenuated viruses.

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