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GSK signs deal with Medicago for COVID-19 vaccine

Collaboration will utilise GSK’s pandemic adjuvant platform

GSK HQ

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) continues to strengthen its position in COVID-19 research and development, with a new vaccine candidate collaboration forged with Canadian biopharma company Medicago.

The new deal will see GSK and Medicago develop and evaluate a COVID-19 vaccine, combining Medicago’s recombinant coronavirus virus-like particles (CoVLP) and GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system.

These CoVLPs mimic the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, which allows them to be recognised by the immune system. The use of an adjuvant could be of particular use in a pandemic situation, as it can boost immune response and reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be manufactured and distributed.

Quebec City, Canada-headquartered Medicago has already tested its CoVLP vaccine candidate in a pre-clinical study, with the results from this testing with Medicago’s candidate demonstrating a high level of neutralising antibodies following a single dose when administered with an adjuvant.

According to a statement from GSK, phase 1 clinical testing is set to begin in mid-July and will evaluate the safety and immunogenicty of three different dose levels of Medicago’s antigen with GSK’s adjuvant, in parallel with an adjuvant from another company. The vaccine will be administered on a one- and two-dose vaccination schedule, given 21 days apart.

If the candidate proves successful and regulatory processes allow it, the companies aim to complete development and make the vaccine available in the first half of 2021. GSK and Medicago will also evaluate expanding their collaboration to develop a post-pandemic COVID-19 vaccine candidate, based on the need for further development after the pandemic.

Using Medicago’s plant-based production platform to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine antigen, the companies expect to be able to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2021, with a further one billion doses planned to be delivered annually by the end of 2023 following the completion of a large-scale facility currently under construction in Quebec City.

“This agreement paves the way for an innovative vaccine option combining a scalable plant-based antigen technology with an adjuvant which has pandemic dose sparing capability. If successful, it will be a meaningful contributor in the fight against COVID-19. We strongly believe that multiple vaccines are needed, including post-pandemic vaccines,” said Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines.

GSK has already offered its pandemic adjuvant system in previous deals focused on targeting COVID-19, including a collaboration with Sanofi for a recombinant protein-based vaccine. Another deal was also agreed in February with China-based Clover Pharmaceuticals that saw GSK’s adjuvant platform utilised for the development of the biotech’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

8th July 2020

From: Research

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