GlaxoSmithKline on Monday said that it will collaborate with Vir Biotechnology to develop potential treatments and vaccine against the novel coronavirus. This will see GlaxoSmithKilne pumping in $250 million in Vir Biotechnology that will allow the company to use the San Francisco-based startup's proprietary monoclonal antibody platform technology to help address the current COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.
Drugmakers across the world are using all their resources in an attempt to find a treatment or vaccine for the fast spreading coronavirus that has claimed almost 70,000 lives globally. Although a few pharmaceutical giants have come up with potential candidates, there is still no approved treatment for the deadly coronavirus.
What will the collaboration lead to?
GlaxoSmithKline's $250 million investment will bring together its expertise in functional genomics along with Vir's monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and as well as identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as preventive or therapeutic options to help address the current coronavirus pandemic.
Per the deal, the initial effort will be on using the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, to identify medicines that could help boost the immune system to fight the infectious coronavirus. A positive result could allow the drug to enter efficacy studies in humans in three to five months.
Plans afoot to start trial in three to five months
Experts across the world have been saying that it could take 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. However, both GlaxoSmithKline and Vir are hopeful about starting a mid-stage trial in another three to five month's time. The companies will be initially focusing on developing Vir's investigational treatments, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, and directly start the mid-stage trial.
The collaboration also includes a long-time project to develop a vaccine that will not only provide protection to infections from this virus but also with SARS-CoV-2, which could raise problems in the future. GSk So long has been primarily focusing on adjuvants, efficacy boosters that play key role in many vaccines. However, it will now change its course of action.
Not only GlaxoSmithKline but also a number of other companies are testing drugs as potential treatment to coronavirus. Moderna has already started coronavirus vaccine candidate in people last month. The company also signed a deal with the US government to produce large quantities of coronavirus vaccines. Also, Gilead Sciences has been testing its drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for coronavirus.